How to keep those employees working from home connected, during a pandemic

Posted by Mike Ryan

You can’t overstate it. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing unprecedent levels of confusion and panic across our economy, our professional lives and our very existence. Corona has become a major concern for everybody, and its newfound presence is changing the way we live and the way we work.

When the World Health Organization declares a pandemic and “social distancing” becomes the norm, leading to businesses closing offices and employees working from home, how do you keep them engaged and focused?

The rapid rise in the number of “work from home” employees

The coronavirus is wreaking havoc on traditional work settings. Companies are reacting to widespread concerns with an abundance of caution by asking their employees to steer clear of the office. They are telling workers to stay at home and perform their jobs from there.

Of course, working remotely is not a new concept. One study found that 70% of employees across the globe work remotely at least one day a week; 53% say they work out of the office about half the time. But with corona on everyone’s mind, many organizations are allowing (or mandating) that their employees telework to stem the flow of the virus. As corona spreads—and as social distancing becomes one way to slow it down—the number of employees working from home, and doing so every day, is exploding.

Utilise Employee Recognition programmes to keep remote workers enagaged

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Working remotely has its challenges

Those that work remotely—and do so daily—face obstacles that can affect their engagement, their job satisfaction, and their productivity. For starters, working on one’s own can be lonely and isolating. It can cause a level of emotional detachment and confusion to percolate within anyone who is not used to such conditions.

The physical distance that comes along with working out of the office can lead to feelings of separation and isolation. And along those lines, it’s important that companies leverage every tool at their disposal—like their recognition programs –to close the social and informational gaps that often widen when people work apart from one another over time.

So how can you keep employees connected and feeling like they are all part of the team no matter where they work from?  The communication and goal setting components found within your recognition program is one answer.

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Collaboration, clarity, communication

When it comes to staying connected with your “work from home” workforce, collaboration and clarity are essential ingredients to productive outcomes. Managers should be urged to turn work teams into small but viable communities that share information and acknowledge each other as closely as if they were working side to side. Turn meetings into online tele-conferences so you can see and react face-to-face, gauging engagement.

The ability to reward and recognize one another via program components like online social walls goes a long way toward building higher levels of collaboration and “all in “objective certainty.

Finally, leave no room for uncertainty. Be crystal clear in your goal setting. With your recognition programs you can set attainable measures like you would in any office setting. And remember inside your system those hurdles can be “set and reset” easily as new progress is made.

Communicating with your employees will take on a new urgency now that most of them are working from home. For example, companies should encourage all managers and team leaders to develop daily work schedules and have online meetings around project due dates as often as possible. That will promote interactions across dispersed groups. In addition to the general touches that go with good management—like making sure an employee understands what’s expected of them (and know how to get the job done)—frequent check-ins on the phone or video-call can go a long way in helping each worker feel connected to the group they work with.

And just as modern-day collaboration technologies have created more ways of helping virtual teams tackle tough projects, recognition tools have also made it possible to keep your team interacting. By nominating one another for demonstrating the company’s values in action, both managers and fellow employees alike can praise one another no matter where they work from.

That’s just one way that recognition programs can help displaced groups maintain strong relationships. The best systems can help you keep your employees feeling appreciated for what they do, stay connected with co-workers, and feel as if they are vital members of the team (and not alone) no matter where they work from.

Being recognized for what they have done not only makes “work from home” employees feel like respected and valuable members of the organization, it keeps them attached to what the rest of the group is doing as well. The act of acknowledging someone (and telling their story as you do) goes a long way toward building the type of interconnected society that makes up an emotionally bonded workforce, whether they work from home or from the office.

 

To discuss how our employee engagement can benefit your organisation, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.

A 25 year industry veteran, Mike is responsible for expanding CR Worldwide’s business portfolio in the United States.