Over the last few years, as communication tools and technology-enabled many employees to do their jobs without being physically present at the office, working remotely has become increasingly popular for employees. According to Gallup survey, over 43% of American employees occasionally work remotely, with 31% doing their jobs somewhere that isn’t the office.
Since there are a number of advantages to working remotely, the number of people that seek employment with flexible work schedules and/or the ability to work remotely will likely keep increasing. A study conducted by Buffer found that 90% of remote workers intend to continue working remotely forever. 43% said they were drawn to the flexibility, while 15% said that they enjoyed how working remotely allowed them to be around their family.
Though it’s clear that many remote employees are finding their own way to be engaged and productive, having a team where many people often — or never — show up to the office can make it hard to create and sustain a strong workplace culture.
Here are some strategies that will help you accommodate remote workers while still maintaining a strong culture in your organization:
1. All Hands Meetings and Communication
Every company has a different way of doing all-hands meetings. While some have them on a weekly basis, others choose to do them once every two weeks. Regardless of the frequency of these meetings, it’s vital that everyone, especially remote employees, is included.
With tools like UberConference, it’s become pretty easy for employees to dial in and participate. As an office manager, it’s your job to ensure that everyone is notified of when these meetings occur and how they can dial in.
Here are some tips for structuring these meetings so remote workers feel included:
- Have everyone introduce themselves at the start of the meeting and do some sort of ice breakers or sharing how they’re feeling, what they just ate, etc.
- Update remote workers on the various things they may have missed since they aren’t in the office.
- If there’s a recent hire, you should notify your remote employees at the all-hands meeting. Just because the employee was introduced to everyone at the office doesn’t mean that the remote worker would know.
All-hands meetings are just one aspect of promoting a culture of communication and transparency. You could also make remote workers feel included by adding them to Slack channels that are both necessary and irreverent or fun. Though there’s no need to include them on things regarding office design or snacks, you should keep them in the loop about office parties or any funny inside jokes that arise from the workplace.
2. Invite Remote Employees to Office Events
While some remote employees live in completely different parts of the company, others may be only working from home part-time. Regardless, you should be inclusive and invite everyone to office events. Office events are also a fantastic opportunity to remind remote employees about the values of workplace community and encourage them to develop bonds with the rest of the office. Though people generally enjoy this new form of working, 21% of remote employees state they experience loneliness. An office party can be your chance to help those employees feel less isolated from their colleagues.
Companies that are seeing a significant shift of workers choosing to work from home may be experiencing a workplace culture problem. The best way to combat that is to ask for honest feedback from your team and come up with quirky ways to lure people back into the office. At your events, have everyone wear name tags so people that work remotely don’t feel awkward that they don’t know everyone’s name.
3. Make Your Office Feel More Like Home
At the end of the day, it can be tough to compete with the luxuries of working from home. Employees won’t feel at ease showing up to work wearing pajamas and there’s nothing like having the freedom to take an afternoon nap. However, there are small ways you can have your workplace emulate some of the comforts of working remotely. You could let your employees wear slippers, bring blankets during the winter, and play their own playlists on the company Sonos. Even something like investing more in snacks can have a profound impact and make employees happier. Whatever you do, all of your employees will appreciate the extra effort.
4. Encourage Part-Time Remote Working
If remote working is having a detrimental effect on your workplace’s culture and productivity, you should see if you can come to a compromise. Some companies allow employees to work from home part-time. This could either be that employees can work from home once a week or on a couple of afternoons per week, they can finish their tasks elsewhere. Since this could easily get complicated, you should set up a carefully constructed system that guarantees that a majority of employees are at the office and aren’t working remotely.
If you’re going to encourage remote working, you should also emphasize how HR managers or office managers are still accessible to all employees. Just because someone isn’t working at the office, doesn’t mean they won’t be having concerns or important input regarding company culture.
You should also try your best to have all employees use one medium of communication. Remote employees may potentially start to find their own ways to contact the employees working at the office. Though there’s seemingly nothing wrong with this, it could be hard to keep track of projects if multiple platforms are being used. Instruct remote employees to use Slack, email, and whichever management platform your office uses.
5. Ask Employees How They Feel
Having some employees work remotely will surely be disruptive to how your office operates. Many employees, perhaps on the older side, could feel a bit confused or worried about this change in the workplace. During this transition, it’s important to check in on your colleagues and ask how it is impacting them. Do the remote employees feel alienated? Do your colleagues at the office feel jealous of the remote employees?
Encourage an open and honest conversation about these issues. As an office, you will be able to get through this transition together and make this 21st-century phenomenon work for you.
Are you interested in making your workplace more efficient? Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your office.