While remote work increased during the pandemic, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that remote work existed prior. According to a survey from Pew Research Center, prior to the pandemic, about 20% of workers did some or all of their work remotely. So, it’s probable that for the foreseeable future, the number of remote employees will be something higher than the pre-pandemic levels but lower than during.
Organizations will want to spend some dedicated time thinking about how to keep employees engaged and productive, when they’re in the office and working remotely. Here are five strategies that can be applied throughout the employee life cycle.
Management Support. Remote work can help the organization attract and retain talent and save the organization money. But it won’t work if managers are not supportive. There needs to be equity where remote work is concerned. Remote employees cannot feel they’re being cut off from information or opportunities simply because they work remotely. This will not create a situation where employees do their best work, and the organization will ultimately suffer as a result.
Onboarding. Starting employees off for success is critical, whether they’re located in the office or not. According to a Korn Ferry survey of company executives, 98% attribute structured onboarding programs as key to their retention efforts. Organizations should look at their onboarding processes to make sure remote employees get all of the training and tools to be successful. That could include a variety of learning methods including in-person, video, on-the-job, social, and microlearning.
Learning and Development. This ties into the onboarding strategy. Just because someone is a remote employee, doesn’t mean they should be excluded from learning opportunities. In a survey from Instructure, 70% of employees said they’re likely to leave their current company for a new company that invests in learning and development. Organizations that aren’t ready to increase the bandwidth of their existing learning and development (L&D) team can look at partnerships with colleges, universities, massive open online courses (MOOCs) or professional associations to give employees the skills they need.
Performance Management. One of the biggest challenges that took place during the pandemic was evaluating employee performance when you can’t actually see the employee working. It can be done, but it involves having a clear understanding of performance results. Organizations should make sure their job standards and descriptions are current. Every employee — regardless of where they’re located — needs to understand how their performance will be evaluated. And organizations should make sure that managers have the skills to evaluate and hold employees accountable.
Rewards and Recognition. Managers need to understand how employees want to be recognized and what type of rewards they enjoy. There’s more than one way to reward and recognize employees for a job well done. And it doesn’t always have to involve being in the same room together. Employee recognition can improve performance by 40-60%.
While it’s true not every employee wants to work remotely, and some employees don’t want to work remotely every day, organizations do want to acknowledge that employees are looking for flexibility. They were looking for flexibility prior to the pandemic, and especially now. It helps employees have a balanced professional and personal life.
Organizations need to look at their current talent strategies to make sure they’re ready to offer that flexibility. With so much out of our control in this challenging time, thoughtful planning will help employees enter a healthy and productive future.