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In our recent webinar – reading the virtual room, strategies to enhance digital communications, we explored how our world has forever changed since March 2020 with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overnight, there was a massive global shift in where and how we work, communicate, connect, and collaborate. Now that we are entering the third year and the endemic stage of Covid, remote work will start to see a massive shift to a hybrid work future.
A global shift
The hybrid future will involve some people working at HQs, offices, or busy facilities, , some gathering at smaller offices or co-working facilities, with many remaining fully remote . Even the staff that has access to offices and facilities will be working from home or remotely several days a week, and most will be working with flexible hours. The future is going to be messy.
There have been many challenges and benefits from the forced global experiment. There is one thing for certain; there is no going back to the way things were. Where flexible, remote and hybrid work was once seen as a privilege, it is now seen as a right. Organizations that embrace our hybrid future will be the future winners.
The great reset
Success will come down to mastering organizational culture, the workplace experience and effective communication. Those that get it wrong will see an impact on performance and profits. Even now, we are seeing the adverse effects of the pendulum swinging too far to all remote all the time, in burnout, low engagement, and a massive wave of resignations. We need to embrace the challenges ahead to move from the great resignation to the great reset.
The benefits of working from home are many for society, business, and the individual. For businesses, operational cost savings, a wider talent pool to select from, the ability to retain older and more experienced employees, more motivated employees, fewer sick days and more productivity. For employees, more autonomy, more flexibility, better work-life balance, and well-being. For society, a lower carbon footprint, higher labour force participation and equity for individuals with disabilities.
There are also many disadvantages, from heavy investment in telecommuting technologies and IT security, to resistance from some workers to these technology changes, technological and interpersonal communications challenges, loss of human and organizational connection, along with coordination and collaboration difficulties. Individuals are starting to see the extremes of all remote all the time manifesting as loneliness, stress, inability to unplug, and effects on training, coaching and in-person collaboration which negatively affects career advancement opportunities.
All things considered, the jury is in.
In a recent survey by both Gallup and McKinsey & Company, 52% of workers indicated they want a more flexible work environment going forward, with the ability to work 1 to 4 days in the office. As a result, 9 out of 10 businesses are saying they will adopt a hybrid workplace model in the future. The office will evolve to collaboration centers with shared resources, communication hubs, and quiet areas to improve connections, enhance innovation, drive collaboration and performance.
So how do we succeed in this hybrid future? Adaptability, fluid communication and the ability to read the room will be key to connecting with remote and in-person team members, clients, and partners.
Amidst this shift, our digital body language will be more important than ever. Our digital body language is not just how we act or are perceived online in a video conference but also in the way we use all digital communications, from chat tools (Teams, Slack), collaboration tools (Asana, Trello), specialty communication tools (Lattice, Kudos) to email, text and even the phone. 55% of communication is visual, 38% is based on tone and only 7% is what you hear.
In the book Digital Body Language, How to Build Trust and Connection No Matter the Distance, Erica Dhawan highlights several things you need to keep in mind when communicating, including the following:
Erica also recommends that you set explicit communication standards. What was once implicit in the office now needs to be explicit in a hybrid workplace, where many, if not all of your team members are online and using technology to communicate, coordinate and collaborate.
Erica wraps up the essentials of communication in our brave new world as follows:
So how does this translate to being your best on a virtual call?
The other side of the equation observing what others’ body language is telling you. Mark Bowden and Joe Navarro, authors of “Truth and Lies, What People Are Really Thinking” and “What Every Body is Saying,” are two top experts on reading body language. Their insights can help you read the room to help avoid miscommunication.
Five simple signs that people are comfortable, absorbing or agreeing with your message include these subtle gestures.
On the other hand, here are a few simple body language signs of discomfort or disagreement that you should be aware of:
Being aware of your own signals and observing others can help you avoid communication breakdowns. When you prepare for meetings, being prepared goes beyond setting the agenda, being on time and having your notes ready – it also includes applying the knowledge above to get your point across and build strong relationships.
Want to learn more? You can watch our recent webinar - reading the virtual room, strategies to enhance digital communications here.
I would love to know your thoughts, observations, and results if you put some of these ideas into practice.
You can find me on LinkedIn @wtshort
This article is part 4 of our 5-part Employee Engagement and Culture Checklist Series:
“Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading but understanding what is being said – and in some cases what is not being said.” -Richard Branson
The last year has caused a great deal of disruption in our usual work environments, and especially our means of communication. For those who have made the shift to remote or hybrid work for the foreseeable future, our ability to communicate effectively has been tested.
The Importance of Communication in Employee Engagement
Employee engagement and communication are closely tied. The moments of connection, inclusion, and community created by strong lines of communication are invaluable to organizations.
Cultures of good communication aren’t easy to build and maintain, but they pay big dividends. By promoting open and consistent communication standards, organizations foster higher engagement levels – and keep in mind, highly engaged workforces are over 20% more profitable.
So, how do your communication skills measure up? Use the list below to assess how you’re doing and identify gaps in your remote-work communication toolkit.
The lack of non-verbal cues created by working in a remote setting can lead to miscommunication, defensiveness, and conflict. That said, there are some non-verbal cues still available, primarily via video calls. And while we are all aware of “Zoom-fatigue,” those video calls are essential to assess whether your message is being received.
Non-verbal cues also go beyond body language. Managers should take the time to interpret the tone of their employees' emails and messages to check for signs of distress, frustration, or burnout. Messages sent late at night, frequent errors, and a curt tone are some red flags to look for.
Finally, more overt actions or displays of disengagement like absenteeism or non-participation in meetings can be a red flag and a sign of a communication breakdown.
Is your virtual door “always open?” Open-door policies are important whether you are in the office or remote. Sometimes your team needs to reach out outside of scheduled meetings and check-ins. In a survey conducted by Slack, 46% of remote workers believe the best managers are the ones who check in often. What’s more, a different study found that 84% of remote workers hide workplace concerns for a few days before informing higher-ups, and 47% admitted that they didn’t address issues for more than a week. With that said, it’s also important to set boundaries – you don’t need to be available 24/7 just because your office is your home. If a task needs your undivided attention, book that time in your calendar and set any messenger apps to “do not disturb,” and book other time slots to answer any questions that come up that day at a time that works for you.
Some managers address this by setting up “office hours” on Zoom where they sign into a Zoom room for an hour or two a week so their employees can pop in as needed to collaborate or ask questions.
Accountability becomes even more critical in remote work environments. Without the visual cues that come with working in a shared space, your colleagues might be worried about your ability to meet an approaching deadline, especially if you haven’t communicated progress and/or have missed deadlines in the past. It's easy to give someone a quick nudge in the office's lunchroom, but it can feel intimidating to send a written message or email when working remotely.
The good news is, building trust and accountability in a virtual work environment is possible, according to Forbes. Some of their recommendations include: be predictable, be easy to read, support others, hold people accountable and tell the truth. For example, predictability by keeping expectations clear and consistent can help employees know what they need to do their job well.
According to Gallup, many remote workers are likely to feel adrift, lost, or forgotten in their new work environment. Companies are built on relationships, and while remote or distributed teams may be physically distanced, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be, or can’t be, tight-knit and supportive.
The key to building personal connections? Effort. While serendipitous water-cooler run-ins may be a thing of the past, for now, it’s still possible to create solid and meaningful relationships with colleagues if you make the time.
According to David Maxfield, managers who are explicit with their expectations have happier teams that can deliver results. Specificity is critical in remote settings so that employees can get to work independently without waiting for guidance. Instructions like “let’s do this sooner rather than later” or “let’s talk next week” can be stressful and confusing, especially for remote workers who can’t just pop their head into your office for advice.
One of the keys to engaging employees is meeting their individual needs and tailoring their work experience to their preferences. The global pandemic left many workers caring for children and elderly parents during work hours – offering flexible work schedules can help ease the burden for them.
Generational preferences should also be considered, with millennials typically preferring email or chat over phone calls, and Gen X or Boomers typically preferring a traditional phone calls over a video conference. Regardless, it’s essential to take the time to understand your team’s preferences and accommodate them whenever possible.
A strong culture of recognition helps drive employee engagement and performance. Regularly communicating recognition is vital in a remote-work environment. When employees aren’t physically together, it can be easy to get caught up in daily tasks and forget to recognize a job well done. It doesn’t have to be complicated – a Deloitte study found that 85% of employees simply want a thank you (vs. a gift or celebration.)
A robust recognition platform like Kudos streamlines recognition across an entire organization. Peers can recognize and thank each other for great work, and managers can recognize their employees and spotlight their contributions for the organization to see.
Finally, communication and direction from executives and leaders must be considered and factored into any kind of communication review. Company news and successes should be communicated transparently and freely to keep employees informed and included. According to a report by PRovote (formerly The Holmes Report), companies with effective communication strategies have 47% higher returns to shareholders, more engaged employees, and less employee turnover.
Gallup’s Q12 framework is an excellent place to start when building a broad employee communication strategy. Gallup has identified 12 foundational elements of employee engagement, and using this framework as a guide, leaders can tailor communications to meet their employee’s common questions and needs. Some of the twelve elements include:
If you answered yes to most of the questions – congratulations! You have exceptional communication skills and are setting your team up for success in a remote work environment.
If this assessment made you realize that there are some gaps in your communication skills - don’t be discouraged. Everyone is still adapting to the changes 2020 brought; it’s important to be patient with yourself and focus on minor improvements every day.
With that said, communication is vital in understanding what remote workers need to perform their job today, which could be different from what they needed six months ago and will likely look different six months from now. Continuously assessing and improving your communication skills is the key to fostering a thriving and engaged workforce.
Every year, the first Friday of March is Employee Appreciation Day – what do you have planned?
Here at Kudos, we think employees should feel recognized every day, but it never hurts to make your team feel extra special on this important day.
Whether you manage a large in-office staff or an agile, distributed team working remotely worldwide, one of the ideas below should work for you.
Employee Appreciation Day isn't necessarily a real holiday, true, but you should still celebrate it!
Even small gestures on Employee Appreciation Day can boost team morale, increase employee engagement, and drive individual and corporate performance with the simple power of a thank you or job well done. In other words, anything you can do to make your employees feel valued and appreciated will pay big dividends.
Fortunately, celebrating your team doesn't have to be complicated. Keep reading to learn eight creative Employee Appreciation Day ideas you can use. We've also included remote alternatives for distributed teams and teams that are temporarily working remotely.
Let's dive in!
What makes everything better? Good food! Show your employees how much you value their contributions by hiring a classy caterer to cook a delicious meal for your team.
If you want to take this Employee Appreciation Day idea to the next level, pair it with one of the other ideas below (#2 Bring in an Educational Speaker or #3 Get Out of the Office, would work well) and create a truly fantastic experience for your staff.
Remote Alternative: Send lunch to your team! Using a meal delivery service like Uber Eats, you can have lunch delivered to your team and together virtually.
Your Employee Appreciation Day celebration can be fun and educational. Bring in an industry thought-leader to speak to your team. They'll enjoy the change of pace, a chance to level-up their skills, and everyone will benefit from valuable new knowledge.
Remote Alternative: Rather than bringing in an educational speaker, have them deliver their knowledge via a video conferencing tool like Zoom. Alternatively, have some fun and book a comedian to brighten up everyone’s day. Remember that with people working from home, it can be hard to dedicate large blocks of time without getting pulled into distractions, so be sure to provide frequent breaks throughout the session and keep it to one-hour maximum.
Did someone say field trip? While you might not be able to take your employees to a museum or concert right now, there are plenty of safe activities that your team can enjoy while staying physically distanced, like going for a hike or visiting a park.
Remote Alternative: Instead of planning a team field trip, try a remote team scavenger hunt.
1. Come up with a list of ten things people can find in their homes or communities.
2. Divide everyone into teams of two or three people who will work together over Zoom, Facetime, or some other video calling app.
3. Give everyone one hour to find as many items as possible from the list (ask everyone to take pictures with their phones).
Consider adding tasks like picking up and throwing away a piece of litter or some other good deed for an added dimension.
Most people want to do good for the world. A 2017 study found that 70% of working Americans think volunteering is a better way to raise team morale than company happy hours. Allow your employees to give back by scheduling a volunteer day.
You could, for example, find a way to support a local homeless shelter or senior living home. Or you could sign up to plant trees, partner with Meals on Wheels, or walk dogs. Ask your team what causes they'd like to support or schedule volunteer work that aligns with your company values.
Remote Alternative: Remote teams probably won't be able to volunteer together. But that doesn't mean they can't volunteer at all. Allow each of your employees to take an afternoon off to assist a local charity of their choice. If physical distancing is required, one great option is to provide pro-bono professional support to local charities, which could be anything from designing a new website to calling their list of potential donors.
Here's a wild idea: host a pet introduction session at the office and allow your staff to introduce their furry companions to their colleagues on Employee Appreciation Day. It will be fun for all involved and will help your employees reduce stress!
Of course, this idea must be handled with care. You certainly don't want an employee's pup making a mess on the office floor, and you should be mindful of people’s allergies. But if you can make it work, it's a great way to show your team that you appreciate them and care about their lives outside of work.
Remote Alternative: Host a pet introduction party via Zoom. Spouse and kid introductions are also welcome!
Life is hectic and stressful, which is why hiring a professional to guide your team through a meditation session is one of our top Employee Appreciation Day ideas.
While it may sound simple, a guided meditation could help your employees wash away months of anxiety related to tight deadlines and long commutes. That may be pushing it, but trust us, your team will appreciate the chance to relax.
Remote Alternative: Another plus to guided meditations? They're easy to host via Zoom for remote teams. Ask your team to log on at a specific time and let your meditation guide help them relax from their home offices.
The subscription box industry has exploded in recent years, which is why this is another one of our favorite Employee Appreciation Day ideas. Do your employees like wine and cheese? There's a box for that. Do they own pets? There are boxes for that, too. Whatever your team is into, there's undoubtedly a subscription box that will cater to them. Here is an extensive list of options to check out.
Note: You probably don't plan to pay for the subscription box for an extended period; let your team know exactly how long their subscription lasts and how they can extend it themselves if they would like.
Remote Alternative: Subscription boxes also work for most distributed teams — unless you manage employees who live in areas where the subscription box service doesn't ship. In this case, consider a unique digital subscription to a service like Masterclass or Udemy.
Finally, celebrate your team with one of the easiest and most impactful Employee Appreciation Day ideas: giving meaning and memorable public recognition. Work with your management team to make sure every single employee is recognized. Better yet, have a celebrity tell your team how proud you are of them via a Cameo video.
We all want recognition for our hard work. By posting about your team on social media or using a tool like Kudos to celebrate individual team members in front of their peers, you'll show your staff that you genuinely appreciate them and their efforts.
Remote Alternative: No need for an alternative here! Public recognition, whether it comes in the form of company social media posts or via Kudos, works just as well for distributed teams as it does for in-office staff.
Employee appreciation is crucial to your company's success. While we absolutely recommend celebrating Employee Appreciation Day this coming March, we also encourage you to recognize your team for their outstanding contributions every day!
2020 has been quite the year so far – to say the least. And we’re only six months in… A pandemic has driven us into our homes and changed the way we work, causing many companies to worry about presenteeism and productivity. But showing up for the workday and not being checked in and engaged can cause more than just a productivity issue, it may be a sign of a burnout problem. In fact, a pre-COVID survey found that 82% of remote tech workers in the U.S. felt burnt out. (Just because our beds are just in the other room, doesn’t mean we workaholics won’t overwork ourselves.)
So, we thought we would share some suggestions on how to prevent burnout in this virtual, work-from-home era.
Did someone say staycation? Yes, you are working from home, and yes, your vacation buddy is probably your five-year-old, or the roommate you found on Craigslist, but you were given vacation time… so don’t be afraid to use it! It’s time to detach from work, it’s time to reset and recharge so you can be your awesome productive self!
We understand pressure can come from your leaders, but that’s why we talk about the importance of communication below.
According to a report by Robert Half, 57% of employees sometimes go to work while sick and 33% always go to work while sick.
Sheesh, that’s 90% of workers who have admitted to this. This is no joke. And presenteeism is just as likely to occur remotely as well. If we are willing to overwork our bodies when we are unwell, burnout is inevitable. So, this is a reminder that even though you may already be at home, taking that time to rest when we are sick can ensure that you stay in the game for the long haul.
As it is often said, there is no such thing as over-communication. If you are at risk of burnout, get ahead of it by talking to your leader or team to make them aware that there may be a problem. Then work out a solution to distribute your workload or, potentially, get time off. Being proactive is key.
Along with communication comes setting boundaries. To reduce the pressure of working into the evening, let your team know when your workday ends. Just because we are at home, does not mean we always have to be online. Closing your laptop for the day is the same as leaving the office, and it’s okay to let people know.
Yes, I know I just preached communication, but sometimes those Zoom calls every hour on the hour can drain us and contribute to burnout. And we all know some of the calls could be emails. But if your calls are mostly with your team, find ways to discuss reducing the number of video calls with them and your leaders. And try to reduce call time by setting a clear agenda for each call.
If that isn’t possible, the Harvard Business Review gives us some tips on how to reduce video call fatigue. From avoiding multitasking on calls to reducing screen stimuli (including staring at your own beautiful face... I’m guilty), these are sure to help your eyes from doing the inevitable glaze-over every once in a while.
The pandemic and our new work environment have a lot of companies pausing and reflecting on productivity and engagement. If you are finding yourself disconnected from your team or you are finding your employees are not as engaged, it might be time to discuss and rethink your engagement strategy.
We talk about a lot about employee engagement strategies here at Kudos (get seven awesome engagement tips here, for example). And many of the strategies we advocate – like letting employees own their tasks, communicating regularly, setting clear but realistic goals, and making it clear that your organization cares about the well-being of your team members – seem especially relevant in the present circumstances.
Our own Kudos platform also seems especially relevant in the remote work world. (We couldn’t talk employee engagement without a quick shout out to ourselves, right?)
Kudos encourages positive and proactive behavior, and alignment with your core values, through real-time peer-to-peer recognition. It also enables efficient and effective communication, which is especially vital right now.
Focusing on employee engagement can help your remote employees stay connected to one another, realize their work doesn't go unnoticed, and keep everyone on the same page and aligned towards company goals – even when you’re apart.
When you have a solid engagement plan, it is more likely presenteeism and burnout will become things of the past.
We are all going through unprecedented times. We are dealing with a pandemic while multitasking our involvement with movements of social justice (well, I sure am). But if you are feeling disengaged from work... well, I would be surprised if you weren’t! And that is okay. Using those personal days, being honest with your employer and employees, and recognizing when things get to be a little too much can help ease the load you feel both physically and mentally. Ultimately, your health comes first, and we must remember to check in with ourselves.
AND... leaders, now is the time to show compassion and empathy. We all want that well-oiled productive machine that is on point all the time, but that machine can’t function properly when its parts are burned out and disengaged.
To learn more about employee engagement, check out our other resources, or connect with us in the chatbot below!
We were very lucky to have Cornell Verdeja-Woodson, a Diversity Business Partner for Google Cloud, on the WFH podcast. The following is an abbreviated version of Cornell’s conversation with our host Nikki Weisgarber. Hear the complete podcast.
Please tell us a bit about your background.
I actually just moved to California, so I'm new to tech. My background is in education. I have a master's degree in higher education. I did diversity-related work for over 10 years in education and moved to tech about a year and a half ago, helping tech organizations really develop their diversity initiatives in order to be able to impact the world in a larger way.
How does working remotely foster greater workplace diversity and inclusion?
It's really opening people's eyes to the things that they take for granted every single day. It’s so important because there are folks who don't have the opportunity to do a lot of the things that some of us are used to, like to go out to brunch, for example. I work from home most of the time anyway, but I really miss being able to go to brunch – being able to get out there.
However, what people are witnessing, is that brunch is far from what most people are concerned about. There are a lot of people who don't have a job anymore because their work can't be done from home. There are some people who still have to go to work and risk catching COVID-19 because if they refuse to go to work, it means they’ll lose their job.
This is really impacting people differently. And I think for many of us, it's really opening people’s eyes to the ways in which other people navigate the world – and where privilege really lies, and how some people can benefit from their class, their socioeconomic class, their race, their gender, and things of that sort. A lot of people are having “aha” moments (which my work is so steeped in) by being forced to work from home and not being able to go outside and do the things that they want to do.
I have found myself overcome with emotion because I was so selfish in that first week of remote work. And then I thought, "What's the problem here? Other people are experiencing much worse circumstances.” I've reflected on that, and I am going to act differently going forward.
You really hit on something good, right? I'm finding that most people, when it comes to DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) stay away from those aha moments out of fear of what that means. Maybe they are thinking that before "I wasn't a good person," or, "I wasn't a humble person, or someone who thought of others." But no, you had a certain vantage point. You had a certain way of living that you understood. And it's hard to know how other people live until you're presented with an opportunity to be educated. So, the fact that you're thinking, "Whoa, I'm taking that information. I'm going to do some things differently now that I know." That's what we're working towards. That's what makes this an amazing experience.
Tell us about how you make sure that all your employees are engaged during this time, especially those that are from backgrounds that are often overlooked in meetings or events or just in their daily lives?
Absolutely. When it comes to these kinds of things, it's really important to note that everyone needs something different when it comes to engagement. So, we need to ask what the different groups that exist within the organization on our teams are, and what might each of those groups need.
Folks who struggle with mental health, what might they need in this moment? Folks who have children, folks who take care of aging parents, or things of that sort. We need to ask what they need in this moment to make sure they know that we're here for them.
We're encouraging our managers to be patient, to be kind, and most importantly, to ask questions. We find that most of the time folks from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds aren't going to advocate for themselves. They're not going to say, "Hey, I have four children, and I'm a single parent," or, "My spouse actually has to go to work, so I'm home with the kids." They're not going to advocate for themselves out of fear of how that might look on them. Women, in particular, will not advocate for themselves for that reason, especially if they're in engineering roles or sales roles, because they don't want to be seen as the weakest link.
So, it's really important for managers to step up and say, "Hey, I know you have needs. Let me know what those are so I can be here and show up for you and create the space for you to take care of what you have to take care of, so you can show up in a major way at work knowing that personal things are being taken care."
Do you have any advice for employees with those needs on how they can communicate to their managers – especially if their managers aren't reaching out to them?
First, I want to acknowledge how difficult that can be – depending on the culture and climate of your organization. If you're in an organization where you have one-on-ones with your manager (and go ahead and request one if they’re not pre-scheduled), use that time to just say, "Hey, I really want to be able to do my best work. And right now there are some things outside of work that are really pressing for me, that are going to inhibit my ability to really be successful in the work that I have to get done." And then outline what is it that you need – and be very specific, because most times your manager is going to ask, "Okay, thank you for telling me. What do you need?" Be ready to provide what that looks like.
But I think that a lot of times managers want to know, "How are we making sure that the work still gets done and you still get what you need?" So, as the employee, a great way to approach it is to say, "Hey, I want to do my best work. Here's what I need in order to be able to do that."
I’d like to talk about the neurodiverse community. According to the CDC, 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls in the US are autistic. So how do we manage a remote workforce that is inclusive of those who are neurodiverse?
Neurodiversity is an under-discussed opportunity within diversity. Knowing that we potentially work with a lot of folks who fall under that umbrella, it's necessary for us, first, to know what neurodiversity even means. What does that look like? And then, from there, we're able to figure out how we create processes and systems of support to be able to allow them to function well and get the support that they need to do their job.
Understanding and awareness are always critical. Diversity education always gets a lot of flak. There are tons of articles that say, "Diversity training doesn't work." And, it's like, "Yeah, they don't work by themselves." So, awareness is super critical because the more I know, the better I can do – and the better decisions I can make. So, being able to understand and create space for people to self-identify as neurodiverse is vital.
We don't want people out there diagnosing others as neurodiverse because they learned about it through a magazine article. We need to create space for people to be able to say, "Hey, I'm someone who really needs this kind of support because of my neurodiversity, and here's what that looks like for me." Opening up the communication for people to be able to advocate for themselves is the best way you can support a large portion of people.
With organizations starting to see the viability of remote work, it opens doors to a larger talent pool. Let's talk about how this creates a greater opportunity to diversify our companies.
I think this is my favorite question, and my favorite topic coming out of this conversation around working from home. There are so many industries that really did not see working from home as a viable way to build teams and manage people and to get work done. But COVID-19 has really forced us to see that working from home – when done strategically and intentionally – can be a viable option for many people.
This opens our workforce to different people. For example, there are folks who don't have the resources to be able to travel back and forth into work or may not want to. I think of my time working in higher education, where we were trying to recruit people of color to some smaller towns that were usually predominantly white. And many people of color, particularly with children, don't want to move to a small town where it's predominantly white because they don't want to raise their kids in spaces where they're the one of five. And there are certain cultural things that people need in their town in order to feel at home. And so, if we open our workforce up to being more open to work-from-home options, now your talent pool opens up because people can live where they need to. Not to mention that remote work can limit the high price tag of relocating employees. Those factors can hinder where you can hire from and who you're willing to hire because you can't afford to help them move. But now, work-from-home options allow us to really connect with different demographics and people from all over the country to be able to maximize the talent that's really out there.
Does the transition to remote work impact diversity initiatives?
It definitely does. For example, training. When it comes to diversity, training is often face-to-face. Many people will tell you that doing it virtually is not the best option because there are so many emotions that come out of talking about diversity. You want to be able to be there in a space with someone, to support them in that moment. But now we're being forced to really rethink, "Wow. We’ve got to get more creative and think about how diversity training translates in a virtual world – using the resources and the technology that are out there to make it just as engaging virtually as it was face to face."
The other thing is that we're helping people develop new skills. So, we're helping managers develop new skills of how to deal with conflict virtually. You know that 85% of our communication is nonverbal. If we're all on Zoom or Google Hangouts and folks have their cameras off, there's much more room for people to misinterpret or misunderstand what someone said. So now we're helping managers to really focus on conflict management skills, making sure that folks who traditionally are talked over in face-to-face meetings don’t also get talked over in virtual meetings.
We know that women often get interrupted and left out of conversations by their male colleagues. So how do we make sure that in a virtual world (where it's very easy to hide under the radar), managers are being very mindful of who's not talking? They should be asking "Who haven't I heard from?" and saying, "Hey, I want to open up this space for people who I haven't heard from already."
n I think the other thing from a DEI perspective of what will change is, unfortunately, that many companies will have to reprioritize their business goals and really pivot to something different. And, unfortunately, diversity initiatives can get pushed to the back burner when more pressing issues arise. For DEI professionals, it's really going to be important for us to make sure that we are making leaders aware that diversity is just as important, if not more important, today as it was before COVID-19.
I've been telling people I think that COVID-19 will be a test for whether or not the business case for diversity conversations actually worked. Will leaders think on their own that, "Yes, we’ve got to get diversity in on this"? Or will they push us to the back, requiring us to really step up and say, "Uh-uh. You need us, and here's why"?
Have you experienced that?
No. So far, not at all. If anything, you see the messaging from other companies, and even my own, steeped in diversity. If anything, they recognize how inclusion is even more important for the reasons we talked about earlier, that people with significant identities of privilege are now going, "Whoa, this is what it feels like to be excluded." So now we're ramping it up, even more, to say, "This is the time to show up, to empathize, to be humble, and to be there for each other."
Everything that I've been reading on diversity and inclusion during this time says this is not the time to cut out any of these initiatives. This is the time to enhance them so that when we come out on the other side of all of this, it's still something that we're working on.
Exactly. And I think working from home will require new systems. And if we build those systems from the ground up with inclusion at the center, we're going to build it in a way that is equitable for all the people who need to be impacted by it.
And it's part of your culture, and your foundation too, right? If you don't have that foundation, it's going to crumble.
Exactly. And it's going to make it harder to fix down the line.
What might be the long-term impact of COVID-19 on diversity work?
I think the big thing is whether diversity work has the reach that we want it to have. I think this is the opportunity for diversity to expand its reach. And what I mean by expanding its reach is that, oftentimes, the best way to implement diversity initiatives is when they touch every aspect of the company: the product, human resources, the facilities, promotion, hiring, all of that. I think that this will be an opportunity for diversity, long term, to naturally seep its way into all those areas – and for us to not have such a hard time getting into those areas.
This could be a natural way for the professionals who are ready with the data, ready with the information, to say, "Look, here's why we need to be at that table having those conversations in those rooms. This is an impact that can really uplift diversity and inclusion initiatives in a major way."
The other thing is specifically around companies who are going to be laying people off. DEI professionals need to be a part of those conversations about how we do that equitably. We know that it has to be done, right? The money isn't there. We've seen some companies where, instead of laying people off, they've asked everyone to decrease their salary to make room for everyone else to be able to keep their job. So how are we a part of those conversations and how are we impacting how we make those decisions? Those are two big things that I think are really going to be top of mind for many companies and how DEI will be impacted in the long term.
Do you have any sort of final thoughts or takeaways that you'd like to leave our audience with?
I think this is a big opportunity for people in diversity roles to get ready to really center diversity around everything that's happening. We have to be ready for that. We have to be ready and have the courage to step up and say, "Hey, do not forget these DEI initiatives. And here's how they're connected, even as you pivot to different priorities because of COVID-19."
But if you're someone who's like, "I'm not in a diversity role, but this matters," or, "I'm just learning about this," I think that this is a really great opportunity for allies to step up and recognize the differences in how COVID-19 has impacted different people. It’s time to say to your company or organization, "What are we doing for this population?" Allies are so important for this conversation, and we need them now more than ever to use that identity privilege to step up and say, "Hey, we're not doing this right," or, "We could be doing this better. And let's do it now before it gets too bad and we can't fix it."
At Kudos, we strive to bring insights from a wide spectrum of leading experts, both from within our company, and the wider community. This week we partnered with HR expert, Jerry Gratton of Trailblaze Partners. Jerry has also been a guest on our podcast, The Work From Home Show.
How has remote working been for your organization?
Did you realize you are a part of the greatest workplace experiment of all time?
Think about it, a vast infrastructure (encompassing huge swathes of our cities all around the world) and a whole way of working and gathering (hundreds of years in the making), abandoned in a matter of days.
And from what I’ve heard from the majority of business leaders and their teams I’ve spoken with, we made it work.
Yes, there have been stumbles. It has not been ideal. Too few lunches out. Too many days in sweatpants.
But we’ve learned just how resilient our organizations (and all of humanity too, frankly) can be.
Here are some thoughts on what we’ve learned and actions we can carry forward to create an even better workplace – no matter where that is.
Lesson: The WFH era has shown organizations which aspects of their culture really matter. Those organizations where the cornerstone of their culture is ping-pong tables and salad bars (those are perks not culture, btw), are probably suffering more than those that were built around common values, aligned goals, a sense of belonging, and recognition from leadership and peers.
Action: Identify and foster the aspects of your culture that you know are driving alignment and engagement. Ultimately, your people want to feel that they belong, know that their work matters, and that they will be recognized for it.
Lesson: I’ve been pleased by how many leaders have changed their opinion on this. Yes, WFH can mean WORK, from home. (I have been leading remote teams for decades, so this is no surprise to me. In fact, purposefully led remote teams can actually be more productive than onsite teams.)
Action: We’ll need to adjust our parameters of when and how often employees can work from home and what the approval process will be. More flexible work arrangements will be the new normal. If you hadn’t addressed this pre-pandemic, there is no excuse now. You’ll also have to think about what sort of physical and technological conditions (high-speed internet, etc.) you require and what sort of support (for tech, etc.) you’ll need to provide.
Lesson: The lower than expected infection rate during COVID has taught us how effective social distancing can be.
Action: Gone are the days of toughing out a cold or the flu at the office. The best sick policies will encourage, not penalize employees for making the decision to keep their germs to themselves. The best will also blend WFH and sick policies together to ensure we’re trusting our employees to decide what’s best for them and the organization.
Lesson: Ditto what I said above about social distancing, but applied to how we are when in the same physical space.
Action: When it comes to office layout – including workspaces and meeting rooms – think carefully about what it will take to make your employees feel safe and meet physical distancing regulations in your jurisdiction. At a minimum, you may need to look at staggering workdays (so not everyone is out/in on the same days). Hint: don’t stagger based on department, the last thing you need is for your entire finance team to be off sick because one member of the team tested positive, or just came in with a cold. Also, you may even need to think about eliminating desks
Lesson: If your team can work from anywhere you can hire from anywhere.
Action: Issues like having team members in different time zones mean you’ll have to think about things like work hours/schedules that allow for collaboration across the whole organization.
Lesson: The best way to know if you can trust someone is to trust them. The WFH era has forced this paradigm on us; we’ve just had to trust our team members. And from what I’ve seen the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
Action: Capture that momentum – don’t lose it! Now is the time to implement changes in reporting and 1-to-1s that move towards managing results, not activity or facetime.
Lesson: Weirdly, many people feel more connected as a result of the glimpses into each other's lives via video meetings.
Action: We can ensure that connection doesn’t go away when we are collocated again. It can be as simple as starting your 1-to-1s with a check-in that includes non-work topics. And, for managers, showing vulnerability – that you're human, that you get nervous, you get excited, you sometimes procrastinate – can put team members at ease and increase that connection. Oh, and the best leaders show their vulnerabilities first.
Can we create a better workplace – one that will marry the best aspects of the lessons from the WFH era and the traditional in-office experience? That will be the next big experiment – and I, for one, am very optimistic. I just hope we get to test it soon!
This week’s blog is by Jane Whitton, Director of Culture Strategy at Kudos. Jane and her team leverage their expertise in organizational culture, change management, and employee engagement to provide practical, results-oriented strategies for businesses around the world.
When the pandemic took hold in mid-March, we heard one urgent question: how do we engage our employees through this?
Amongst the logistics of ensuring physical distancing, enabling work-from-home technology, and re-evaluating operating budgets and annual goals, came a question about people – not their achievements, which is a common theme in recognition conversations – this question was about supporting people’s mental health.
Of course, our clients are concerned about a loss of productivity. And we all know that a mentally healthy individual is more productive. In some cases, our busy HR clients who are typically asked to prioritize everything, are now being urgently required to focus exclusively on employee engagement, freeing up more time to develop exciting engagement programs that work for their businesses.
But as we dove into discussions, we found that most of our clients were looking for ways to support their staff through this uncertainty. To create happiness. To help people transition to a work-from-home routine. To support them while they balance their work and parental duties. To remain connected – however different that feels now. It was less about achievements and points, and more about in-the-moment appreciation. And hope.
Our most popular programs since COVID-19 took hold, have been around connection and mental wellness.
Many clients have introduced a gratitude practice across their organization that encourages people to take a few minutes to focus on a positive interaction between colleagues. And anything goes! From checking in on each other, to making a child laugh during a meeting or helping them solve a work problem – our Kudos users are a grateful bunch!
Some have kicked off this gratitude practice by having their president or CEO send recognition to all staff to show their personal gratitude for the team’s resiliency during this time. These leaders will provide examples like those noted above to illustrate that everyone feels seen and supported through this change.
Other organizations use the new Spaces feature in Kudos to collect work-from-home tips, ways to connect with loved ones, or suggestions on local businesses to support.
Some encourage their employees to share a picture of their workspace, the new “colleagues” they now work/teach alongside (2- or 4-legged versions!), or a screenshot of the co-workers they are virtually connecting with.
In all cases, we recommend that businesses recognize team members who participate in supporting each other and building a culture of resilience in a way that was never required of them before.
We encourage them to highlight – through their leaders or existing communication practices – messages that articulate the types of behaviours they want to encourage across their business, now, and after the pandemic has passed.
Over time, the above-mentioned practices will evolve into “normal” program planning that combines appreciation with performance management, and includes values and behaviours, and contests and prizes. We want to make sure our clients and their employees are ready for the “new normal.”
We will also be offering additional programs to help our clients transition back to office work – whenever that may be, or whatever that will look like – so they can continue to build and maintain their culture of resilience, appreciation, and performance.
The world, and how we work within it, may be different after COVID-19 has passed, but for businesses who encourage activities like the ones mentioned above, the change will be worth recognizing and celebrating.
This one: Over the past few weeks on our podcast, The Work From Home Show, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with some awesome HR pros from a variety of companies, including Google, Drift, and PandaDoc. At the end of every episode, Nikki, our Work From Home Show host, asks our guest the same question: "What is your number one tip for working from home?" And here are the answers!
Over the past few weeks on our podcast, The Work From Home Show, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with some awesome HR pros from a variety of companies, including Google, Drift, and PandaDoc. At the end of every episode, Nikki, our Work From Home Show host, asks our guest the same question: "What is your number one tip for working from home?" And here are the answers!
-Cornell Verdeja-Woodson, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Google
I would say that one of things that helps me is getting up at the same time I would have when I was going into the office. Then I would map out what my day looks like. I have a list of the things I need to accomplish, and I get those done. So make sure that your day is still structured. It's very easy to be watching TV on the side – and that’s OK, but have it structured so you know that from 1 pm to 2 pm you can take a quick hour break to watch that latest episode of Judge Judy, and then come back.
-Robin Corralez, Global Vice President for Human Resources at Pandadoc
My number one tip is to start your day with a transition into work. Find something to do before you begin the workday. For example, I go for a walk with my daughter each morning. We bust out either a bike or a stroller and we go for a walk to decompress between getting out of bed and getting on the computer. There have been times where I roll out of bed and go straight to my computer, and I feel like there's no transition. Find a way to ease yourself into working; whether it's doing something physically active or mentally active. It's a good way to help you maintain your mental attitude and be refreshed each day. Hear the podcast.
-Dena Upton, Chief People Officer at Drift
Set a schedule and have a space where you go to work that is separate when you’re off the clock. Find somewhere you can go, mentally, to say “I'm in work mode right now,” or “I'm off right now.” It doesn't have to be a huge space, but even if it's just moving over to one section of the house. This means you're still bringing those routines and rituals into remote working that you would normally do if you were going to the office. Hear the podcast.
-Anette Ceraficki, HR manager for Getty Images
You have to figure out how to structure each day. It might look different if you have a family or if you have other commitments, but without structure you might work all day long. On certain days, I build in two hours to focus on specific projects because work time like that needs to be planned when we don't have a “work” environment to support it. Hear the podcast.
-Jerry Gratton, Founder and CPO of Trailblaze Partners
My number one tip would be to make a make a schedule. The day can just sort of “go by” when you're at home. So, make a schedule and make sure that there's a lot of time for connecting with your team members. For those of us that like to be around people, that's the stuff that makes work actually work.
Just because you're working from home doesn't mean you have to be isolated. In your calendar, build lots of check ins with team members – and not just your leader. You have conversations at people's desks during the day when you're at the office, use video chat to do those kinds of things face to face. Hear the podcast.
-Michelle Berg, CEO of Elevated HR
Set boundaries. I feel guilty if I'm not giving enough time to work or I'm not giving enough time to my family. So, make sure you're still setting those boundaries when you're working from home. I tell my kids I'm working 8:00am to 5:00pm - after that, you have my full attention.
As a mom, don't forget to set time for you. Because it's not just about work, and it's not just about being a mom, self-care is so important right now and it's OK to be selfish. Hear the podcast.
-Tom Morin, speaker, author, coach and consultant at Work Feels Good.
I have worked from home for a long time. It wasn't uncommon for me to not move from my computer for four or six hours, and when I get up to move, I would be in pain and stiff. I started setting alarms on my phone that go off every half an hour. Then when an alarm goes off, I’ll stand up – even if I have nothing to do. I'll go get a drink of water. I’ll bring in the garbage bins from the street. I’ll sweep off my deck. The number one work from home tip for me is to keep moving. Hear the podcast.
We hope these tips were useful. I mean, these people know what they are talking about! We know we enjoyed chatting with all of them and plan on implementing many of these tips ourselves! As we all go through this together, we are all discovering how to navigate these times both personally and professionally, and we hope these tips can help make this navigation a little smoother.
If you are interested in hearing more from these and other awesome HR pros, check out The Work From Home Show. We dig deeper into the challenges and benefits of working from home, and the strategies companies are using. We also talk about “what’s next,” to help you be ready for how the workplace may change in the post-COVID-19 world. Not to mention, you'll find out which shows these HR pros say are binge-worthy!
Jerry Gratton is the Founder and CPO of Vancouver-based Trailblaze Partners, Management Consultants. He has 25 years of experience building high performing teams across a variety of industries. Jerry has held key leadership roles at some of the most successful companies in western Canada, including 1-800-GOT-JUNK, Crystal Decisions, Aritzia and O2E Brands.
We spoke with Jerry for an episode of the Work From Home Show podcast. The following is an abbreviated version of that conversation. Click here for the full podcast.
Tell us about your experience talking with organizations over the last few weeks.
When I’ve been talking to companies about how to transition to remote work, one of the things that I remind them is that even though many of them have been thrust into this, the good news is many companies have been doing it for years. I remind them that it can be done, and that teams can be super productive even when team members can’t see their leaders.
Should expectations of team members change when they’re working remotely on a consistent basis?
I think we should expect everything of each other that we expect when we're together. It's just different. And probably one of the biggest differences is people are used to having their leader around. So one of the biggest things that I think we should expect from each other during this time is how do we take that public part of working together in an office, and intentionally translate it to the remote environment.
But, we have to lead with a lot of empathy at this time, because it's very different and very new. So maybe don't just switch those expectations overnight. You have to say that you're going to still expect things of team members, but that you're going to figure out what’s appropriate, and what's not, together.
How does that affect workloads?
There's an adjustment period. But what we do know – and this is good news – is there have been many studies about remote work versus co-located people in an office, and generally, the studies show that people can actually be more productive in remote work environments.
But don't expect that of your newly minted work-from-home teams right away. People can be more productive if their leader allows for flexibility in when team members work. We have to reimagine the workday because many of us are at home now with kids and dogs and lists of to-dos – things we can park at the door when we go to the office and not think about.
So if we still think of the 9 to 5 paradigm, productivity will be reduced because we just can’t get as much done with all those distractions. So we have to be okay with deadlines stretching and people being able to work when they've got the time. If you can't get something done right now, do it later. And maybe later is Saturday morning when everyone's sleeping in.
So, I think we can expect people to still be productive, but we have to change the way we see them being productive, and be flexible about the timeframe in which productivity happens.
Can you tell us about the performance meeting and how it might have to change with remote teams?
A lot of organizations have a regular cadence for coaching meetings, or “get stuff done” (GSD) meetings. I would say continue those, but probably change up the frequency. The most common is the weekly one-hour meeting where you check in with your team members and find out what they've done and where they were blocked. I would take that and half it and double it. So, twice the frequency half the amount of time. That's just a rule of thumb. Do what feels natural for you, or as often as that individual needs.
As a team though, I think we really have to be intentional. Since we’re missing “working out loud” and working publicly, we have to schedule daily huddles with your team where you go around the table and do a “top one” check-in with each other. And then hold them accountable to that. And be sure to check in on how everyone is feeling too.
What are some of the strategies and best practices you can recommend around recognition?
I love the daily huddle. That’s a practice we honed really well at 1-800-Got-Junk. It became part of the DNA of the company – we were known for it.
The daily huddle is an opportunity to provide recognition not just from leader to team member, but team member to team member. But it takes time. You don't just say, “okay, now we're gonna recognize each other,” and it just happens. As a leader, you have to be a role model.
In these uncertain times, it's imperative of leaders to dig down deep into that barrel and pull out the good news from the previous day or the good news from that morning, if it's an afternoon meeting.
And I would encourage leaders to model public recognition and also individual recognition. You should know your team members and know who likes to be carried out of the room on everyone's shoulders, and who wants to just be quietly recognized for the work that they did.
I would also say that now's the time to pull out goofy awards and trophies. With one of my teams, we had a “Golden Gnome Award.” We found an old garden gnome and we awarded it to the team member of the month. And it became the most coveted award. If you could get the Golden Gnome, you had bragging rights for the next month. So, do things that make it fun – especially now when not everything is really fun.
What advice are you giving your clients about the opportunities that might arise when COVID-19 is over?
As we move past the vital question of, “how do we survive?” there are some really serious conversations that organizations are having where they are asking “what can we do?” And the best ones are doing it as a team. They’re asking, “Is this an opportunity? What didn't we do before that we can do now? And that we can carry forward into the future?”
The best companies are not being opportunistic in a way where they’re going to make money off of COVID-19. They’re being opportunistic by asking what strengths and skill sets they have as an organization? They’re thinking about how they can pivot on those, and be helpful to other businesses and individuals.
I hope these conversations around remote work don’t just end when we go back to the office. I hope we can think about how this translates into more flexible workplaces for team members. And how these practices increase your employee value proposition and your talent pool. If you can get used to remote work, your talent pool just grew from wherever you're situated, to the world, potentially.
Those are the kinds of really exciting conversations to have – while being respectful of what we're all going through right now and how serious this situation is.
What’s your number one tip for working from home?
My number one tip would be to make a schedule. And build your calendar with lots of check-ins with team members, not just your leader. You have conversations at people's desks during the day when you're at the office; so do those kinds of things virtually. Don't feel alone.
Originally published in 2019, we thought this blog would provide great value – and positivity! – to businesses navigating the current situation.
Sure, remote work is mandatory for most of us in the time of COVID, but did you know that many people actually prefer working remotely? And people working away from the office are often more productive – and even happier!
That’s a mighty big leap for a working style that was once relegated to freelancers and those mysterious people in coffee shops hunched protectively over their laptops. It turns out they weren’t just writing the next great American novel - they were working remotely!
What is remote work, exactly? Put simply, it's a working style that allows employees and teams to operate outside of traditional workplace settings, with an emphasis on working from any locale or destination.
Whether part or full time, remote workers can execute their tasks and achieve goals without having to be in one specific place with their office counterparts. More employees are pushing for remote work opportunities, making it a key driver of recruitment and retention for many organizations.
According to Regus, increased productivity and improved work/life balance account for nearly 70% of employees’ reasons for wanting remote work opportunities!
Remote work may not be suitable for everyone, but there’s no denying the need for remote opportunities. While it’s easy to assume that remote workers may be unproductive, this working style is only growing in popularity.
There are six things organizations need to consider regarding remote work before deciding whether they should implement this working style and remote opportunities into their operations.
Organizations can no longer ignore the modern workforce’s demands for remote work opportunities.
51% of employees would willingly change jobs or companies for those which offer more remote options and flexibility, and companies have little choice but to adapt to the realities of how people want to work.
Millennials are perhaps the biggest proponents of remote work, where the opportunity for more flexibility takes priority over other benefits associated with their jobs. Studies have found, for example, that 69% of millennials would trade other work benefits for more flexible work options!
It’s not just existing employees that want more flexibility in their work styles, either. More people are searching for roles that allow for remote work! On job search engines like Indeed, for instance, in Canada alone, searches for remote roles have increased by 19% since 2017.
Flexible work styles are also one of the foremost considerations for millennials when pursuing a career opportunity, with 75% of millennials wanting remote work options at least part of the time.
Moreover, in a survey conducted by Buffer, an overwhelming 99% of respondents said they would like to have the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers!
It may surprise leaders to learn that remote work has its benefits for more than just employees and remote teams!
44% of companies don’t allow any form of remote work, but those that do often experience significant increases in productivity and retention when providing their teams with remote opportunities.
Surveys have indicated that companies that allow some form of remote work experience 25% less turnover, but that’s not all. Agile workers, such as remote employees, are 36% better equipped to meet changing customer demands; provide organizations with 34% more access to a broader range of skills and specialized talent, and offer 36% more general skills and expertise to organizations!
Productivity is also an incentive for organizations when it comes to remote work. OwlLabs conducted a study in which they found that fully remote workers are twice as likely to be individual contributors to their organization than their managers! Similarly, a study by Stanford University points to the benefits of remote work, which include, among others, improved job satisfaction, higher productivity, and an increased sense of autonomy.
Which brings us to our next point…
It may be hard to believe that remote workers can be just as engaged, or even more so than their office-bound counterparts.
However, research shows that employees who have the opportunity to work remotely are not only engaged and connected but sometimes even more productive!
Gallup studies have shown that approximately 35% of those who work remotely at least 20% of the time are more engaged. Meanwhile, 60% of an employee’s time spent working offsite results in higher engagement rates, and 58% of employees feel more motivated when working remotely versus in-office.
Those who have the opportunity to work remotely at least a few times each month are also 24% more likely to feel happy and productive in their roles versus those who have no opportunity to work remotely or from home.
Remote work may also promote the opportunity to do what employees do best. For example, Gallup reports that employees who work remotely are 31% more likely to strongly agree they have the chance to do what they do best, every day!
Remember we mentioned remote work and productivity? Well, it turns out that remote employees are not only engaged but also productive! In a 2018 study of Canadian remote workers, Indeed found that 90% felt they were more productive when working remotely.
In that same study, 65% of Candian employers agreed that their employees were more productive when able to work remotely!
Other studies of Canadian remote employees support these stats for productivity. As of 2017, for instance, approximately 47% of Canadians work remotely, with 54% reporting they work remotely to improve productivity.
From a global perspective, organizations can expect similar results and benefits regarding remote productivity. Udemy performed a study in which they found that 40% of employees report more flexible or remote work options would help with work-related distractions, while 52% find remote work allows for more productivity.
Further, though work/life balance remains a critical factor in employees’ desires for remote work options, the number one reason is productivity and focus, according to recent studies of global remote workers!
At the outset of this article, we mentioned that remote work is steadily on the rise, evolving from a trend to a mainstream practice for a range of companies across a myriad of industries.
Many organizations are moving towards remote working styles to provide their employees with the freedom and agility they need to accomplish their tasks outside of common work environments.
Randstad predicts that, by 2025, approximately 32% of company work models will include remote work. Looking even further into the future of the workplace, other studies like those from Upwork predict that, by 2028, 73% of all working teams will be working remotely!
Remote work can be advantageous to many organizations and their teams, but we may be inclined to think of remote work as a practice relegated to startups or mid-size businesses. On the contrary, remote work can be employed by enterprise companies, as well! Global Workplace Analytics has found that employees working for Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are working away from their typical office environments 50-60% of the time.
That’s a significant amount of time spent working remotely!
It’s not just millennials that seek out more remote or flexible work options. Remote workers also include those considered to be ‘Baby Boomers,’ meaning employees over the age of fifty. Both younger and older generations of the workforce are demanding more remote opportunities from their organizations, and those same organizations are employing millennial teams to recruit and plan how their working environments will function with this working style in mind.
Upwork discovered that, as hiring managers grow increasingly more millennial, 69% of these young managers are more likely to allow their teams to work remotely. Those same millennial managers are 28% more likely to utilize remote employees than leadership from the Baby Boomer generation.
This may not come as a surprise, however, to those with their finger on the pulse of workplace trends and planning. The World Economic Forum has frequently reported on remote work as one of the biggest drivers of transformation in business operations of companies around the globe.
That may be why more managers and leaders are focusing their attention on retention and the future of their workforces; in particular, 52% of young managers rank future workforce planning as a top priority, especially in regards to managing remote and flex teams.
By proactively designing their organization’s workplace operations with remote work in mind, managers and leaders are taking into account the engagement and productivity of their teams! Engagement is critical for remote teams; overall, 60% of employees feel that managers and leaders are responsible for implementing engagement strategies.
Aside from the obvious benefits of remote work, such as agile teams and increased productivity, a myriad of research also showcases how job satisfaction, well-being, and overall work ethic improve when employees can work remotely.
A National Institute of Health study, for instance, revealed that remote workers report feeling less stressed and more satisfied with their jobs and thus less likely to quit - good news for organizations concerned with retention! Studies from PGi indicate much the same, where 82% of remote workers feel less stressed by work-related tasks and responsibilities.
That stat, in particular, is notable, given work-related burnout is one of the more significant drivers of turnover. Deloitte’s research has found that 84% of millennials experience frequent burnout while at work, while half of millennial employees have left jobs due to burnout.
Yet, when working outside of traditional workplace environments, 70% of employees report feeling healthier. Remote work may be the answer to many organizations’ ‘prayers’ for retaining top-performing yet burnt-out employees.
There’s also something to be said for the connection between healthier, happier remote teams and how they feel about their organizations. For example, 87% of remote workers feel more connected to their organization thanks to remote tools and practices and are 27% more likely to agree they have the materials and equipment they need to do their work versus office-bound employees. Moreover, a study from Harvard showed that 87% of remote workers actually felt more connected.
Thanks to collaborative tools, remote teams can remain connected with both their leaders and colleagues, anywhere, anytime. Regus notes that 86% of remote workers use instant-messaging tools like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Slack, while 50% of employees use platforms like Google Drive and 60% use tools like Skype.
Not every organization or employee will find remote work compatible with their needs or working styles; after all, remote or flex work is not a one-size-fits-all style. However, companies would be hard-pressed to find an employee who isn’t even remotely curious in remote work opportunities.
By taking into account how your people work, and how it impacts their productivity, leaders and organizations as a whole can make more informed decisions about the implementation of remote work possibilities!
Reacting to the current situation, Nathan Di Lucca, a developer here at Kudos, offered up some tips to our team facing working from home. Based on a 7-month stint he had working remotely, we thought this was must-share content. Hope it helps!
If we are required to work from home for an extended period of time, it is important that we take care of ourselves and stay productive! From having a routine, to managing online meetings – here’s a list of tips that will help you avoid cabin fever when working remotely.
Set your alarm to a specific time every day. Get up and get ready as if you are going into the office. Set a lunch time! Make sure to have lunch the same time you usually would. Having a schedule will help you to stay on track.
We know… They are so comfy! But you can still wear comfy clothes, just make sure they are different from what you slept in.
Don’t work somewhere you normally associate with relaxing, as that could trick your brain into not being as productive. If you don’t have an office or an available table, then even the dining table, or kitchen counter can work! When the day ends, close up your “home office” to separate work from the household.
Normally this is where I suggest walking to a local coffee shop every day at the same time, but that is probably not advisable under current circumstances. The next best thing is to take a walk around the block to prevent feeling like you are trapped inside.
With remote work, it is important to be in regular communication with your team. Use chat systems, email and video conferencing. There is no such thing as over-communicating, as it keeps you and your team engaged! See below for some tips for managing online meetings
Background noise can be quite disturbing during larger conference call meetings. You never know what background noise is going through your mic, and sometimes applications such as Slack and Zoom will actually try to increase the volume of the background noises as it thinks it is just you speaking quietly. Make the mute button your best friend!
Everyone has dealt with people speaking over each other during in-person meetings, but it can be more difficult to manage during online meetings. You’ll find it useful to have one person lead the meeting by keeping an eye who is trying to speak and then passing the “talking stick.”
And we’d like to add…
There are ways to take advantage of working remotely that can bring you some real benefits, like the opportunity to really focus on your work and yourself.
And remember that self-care is really important if you ever feel isolated when working from home. Make sure to always check in with yourself and others who may be working remotely as well.
In addition to email, chat and video calls, Kudos® is also a great way to connect with your team. Kind words of peer-to-peer recognition go a long way in troubled times – boosting morale, increasing engagement and inspiring much-needed smiles! Want to learn more? Use the chatbot below to start the conversation!
We hope these tips can help you stay engaged, productive and less stressed (and maybe even happy!).
Does your company employ a remote workforce? Would you like your team to work partially or entirely remotely? If you've ever thought about allowing your team to work from home, you're not alone. There are plenty of benefits to having a distributed team. But many company leaders are concerned that engaging remote employees will be a chore.
In this article, we'll show you how you can easily engage your remote team to ensure they feel just as involved as their in-bound counterparts.
The number of global remote employees is rising. Experts expect this trend to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. After looking at the stats, we're not surprised. Did you know that:
Those are three very solid reasons to jump on the remote employee train! But working with a distributed workforce isn't without its drawbacks. Namely, team engagement. How can your company keep its staff engaged when they aren't physically present in the office? In the next section, we'll give you four tips for engaging remote employees.
Ready to embrace the remote work revolution? Follow these four tips and engaging remote employees will be a breeze!
Clear, effective communication is critical for every business. But when working with remote employees, it becomes even more important because managers aren't in the room with their teams. This could easily lead to misunderstandings, which in turn can lead to employee disengagement.
Ensure that each of your remote team members knows exactly what's expected of them. It's also a good idea to make them aware of core values and company goals so that they can feel more involved.
To keep the lines of communication open, we recommend using a tool like Slack. It will allow you to communicate effectively and frequently with your offsite staff, keeping them engaged.
Another great communication tool is video conferencing software. As G2 suggests, video conferencing solutions eliminate the need for in-person attendance in daily meetings and ensure open and consistent communication between teams. These features make it the perfect feature for any company with remote employees because it allows them face-to-face time with the rest of your team. It allows your remote workers to feel as though they're still part of the conversation, even when they're not in the office.
Don't take our communication tip too far, though, by attempting to micromanage your remote team. One of the reasons remote workers are generally more productive and happier than their office teammates is because they have more freedom - freedom to work when they want, where they want, and how they want.
Don't try to take this away from them! If one of your staff works best at 2 AM, let them work at 2 AM. If another employee likes to work at the Starbucks down the street from their home, what's the harm? As long as each of them completes their tasks well and on time, don't stress.
As you'll be saving on significant costs by hiring remote workers, budget a portion of your department's funds for an annual team trip. This will allow you to have face-to-face time with your offsite staff and help build trust and rapport.
While modern technology makes it easy to talk with and even see people from all corners of the globe in real time, nothing beats face to face interaction. When your remote employees have had a chance to meet and have fun with their colleagues, they'll feel much more invested and engaged in their work.
Finally, we recommend that you establish an employee recognition system for your entire team — both in-office and remote workers. Think about it this way: would you be excited to work for a company that didn't appreciate your efforts? Probably not!
This strategy is especially important when employing out-of-office talent. By including your remote employees in your recognition efforts, you'll ensure that each of them remains engaged and feels valued for their hard work, even when they aren't physically present at the office.
A platform like Kudos allows you to easily recognize your team members and prevent them from becoming disengaged. You'll be able to enjoy the extra productivity they'll bring to the table because of it.
Engaging remote employees doesn't have to be hard. Consider starting with our tips outlined above and you'll be well on your way to keeping your offsite staff productive, happy and engaged. We wish you the best of luck as you start (or continue) to manage your remote team!
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