Working remotely has been on the rise for years. More companies are allowing employees to work from home or satellite offices. Including these employees in company culture is vital to a positive work environment, be it on-site or off. According to a study by FlexJobs, “Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work.” Sounds great, right? What’s even better is, “85% of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their company because of greater flexibility. In addition, 77% of businesses say allowing employees to work remotely may lead to lower operating costs.” Staying engaged with this large number of remote workers will also increase job satisfaction and employee retention.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s easy for remote workers to feel disconnected from the company culture. This can leave employees feeling left out and result in them becoming disengaged from the organization. As more offices adopt the goal of creating a flexible environment for their employees, organizations need to work to help remote workers feel included.
Steps to ensure remote workers feel included:
1. Keep communication flowing through technology
The days of Skyping your coworkers have evolved into conferencing on Zoom calls and communicating with large interactive whiteboards. These white boards are great for displaying presentations, showing video of meeting attendees, and allows real time edits. You can send the presentation deck with edits immediately without having to take a screen shot or emailing a file. Anyone that has an interactive whiteboard, connected on the same network can participate in edits. Allowing for complete visibility and accessibility, employees have a truly connected experience. It’s a great way to keep your remote workers engaged and to feel included. In addition, Zoom calls are a great tool for conferencing in multiple people regardless of location or network. Video chats or call-in options allow for multiple users to connect no matter where they are. The continuous advances in technology help organizations include all employees.
2. Include remote workers by inviting them to all culture driven events
Nothing says inclusion like an office party! Any time there is a special event in the office, or an opportunity to bring your entire team together, do it! Take advantage of the times when all of your employees will be together. Ensuring your remote workers know the details of the event well in advance, will almost guarantee their participation. Try to create an event, team lunch, or even an ice cream social once a quarter to bring them into the office. Pair the fun with an informative session or a company meeting to maximize employees time. If the event isn’t large, involve all employees regardless if they work remotely or not.
3. Continue to recognize them for their contributions
To be a successful remote worker, it is vital to remain productive outside of the office. Though distractions are always present, whether at home or a coffee shop, remote workers are able to check things off their to-do list more effectively. This is because the distractions from the office aren’t present, allowing for increased productivity. It’s important to continue to recognize off-site employees for their team participation and the contributions they are making to the organization. They may not get the satisfaction of holding the “trophy” at their desk for the most sales calls made, but they can feel the recognition from their peers and leadership team, helping them feel included.
4. Set up a community event to involve all team members
Giving back in the community is a great way to include remote workers in company culture. It provides the opportunity to focus on others and boost morale amongst coworkers. Even if your remote worker is far from the office, there are ways to involve all employees in community opportunities. For example, coordinate a day where each of your team members are involved in a similar community act. For instance, everyone can volunteer at their local food pantry. Additionally, remote team members who are local can volunteer together to build stronger connections with one another. Remember to take pictures and post them on the company board to include all employees who took time to contribute to their community. Near or far, it’s a great way to give back and help involve everyone. After all, giving back is a beautiful thing. At Applied Innovation, community is one of our ‘Elements of Success’ and the backbone of what’s made our culture so impactful. It has also helped us ensure all 12 of our locations feel included.
5. Use Chat applications to keep remote workers connected
Before social media and happy hour, the water cooler is where most of the office chat took place. Whether it’s discussing the rivalry football game, the latest episode of your favorite show, or catching up with coworkers after the weekend, this type of small talk is what keeps office connections alive. It is also easily taken for granted. For example, when you are a remote worker, you are not able to have these chats first thing in the morning, during a break, or at lunch. Utilizing an electronic chat app helps everyone (remote or on site) feel connected. Software like Microsoft Teams or Monday.com can help your remote workers feel included in office conversations.