As result of the pandemic, it’s clear that the office is no longer the default location for work. Remote and hybrid working are here to stay, certainly for a large number of businesses and workers, and companies are putting a lot of effort into understanding how to best manage this newly distributed workforce.
Among the challenges remote work presents is how to keep employees engaged and corporate culture intact when workers are rarely, or never, all together in the office.
It presents a real problem. A study by Ricoh Europe suggests that approaching half (42%) of office workers in Europe think that their company culture has suffered from restrictions during the pandemic. And the issue will only become more pressing if future waves of viruses prompt more lockdowns and lead to even more remote working.
And because engaged workforces are happier, healthier, more productive and more likely to stay with the company, businesses that don’t get it right at this pivotal point in time risk increasing staff physical and mental health issues, reducing efficiency and losing a considerable amount of their top talent.
Engagement through technology
Keeping workers engaged requires new approaches and solutions, including new uses of technology and new tools. Companies are relying on videoconferencing and online chat more than ever, and even setting out corporate policies such as ‘color coding’ video meetings so that staff understand the level of engagement necessary, for example, whether they need to turn on their video camera or not. They’re also organizing regular online social gatherings and ‘happy hours’ so colleagues still feel connected to each other and the organization on a personal level.
Another way technology can support employee engagement is to help organizations be more responsive to the rising number of requests to formally change working arrangements, with staff now more commonly asking to work at home, or from second or family homes, or in shared workspaces.
All of these requests funnel through to people managers and HR, who must keep track of and evaluate each request and decide whether to approve or deny them.
Having the tools to simplify this process and shorten response times improves communication between managers and staff and supports productivity by limiting confusion about where and when staff should be working. It also increases employee satisfaction with their working environments, which leads to greater engagement.
The right employee-request tools improve managers’ knowledge of who is working where, and on what terms, to ensure workers adhere to corporate policies, as well as tax, payroll and legal regulations. They also help managers to spot trends and personnel risks.
In these ways, the tools enable managers and HR to better meet workers’ needs, demonstrating an organization’s flexibility, and that it cares about where employees feel most productive. Employees, in turn, tend to feel more trust and engagement with managers who care about their preferences. There can be no employee engagement without trust.
With new policies and technology, it’s clear that today all organizations must address the challenges of keeping workers focused on their duties and involved in the wider culture – so even if employees are working remotely, they don’t feel alone.
Read more about remote working…
Find out more about how HR and mobility managers can better manage remote-working requests and keep their staff engaged with our Remote Work solution.