Five ways to keep remote workers happy and committed

10 April 2020 5 min. read
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During the Covid-19 outbreak, it is essential for leaders to support their workforce so that they can endure this situation and continue delivering high quality work for as long as it takes, regardless of all the obstacles they encounter along the way. Julie Provino, a HR expert and founder of HR consultancy VeryHR, shares five ways how leaders can keep their remote workers happy and productive. 

To keep staff “happy” in such unusual and unpredictable circumstances, leaders need to focus on their mental health and wellbeing. There are plenty of online resources available for anyone requiring assistance in these areas. In addition, employees are relying on their employers to reassure them with honest and transparent communications around what will happen next in their uncertain working lives.

At the time of writing, experts are predicting six months before we return to a business-as-usual world of work. So, how do you keep your workforce engaged, committed and resilient for the long haul?

1. Communicate authentically

Without doubt, we are going through a prolonged and dynamic period of change with new regulations being introduced at a daily, if not hourly, rate. We’ve even given up some of our fundamental human rights in terms of freedom as we stay isolated in our homes for our own protection.

How to keep remote workers happy and committed

But remote workers can quickly start to feel anxious, alienated and even paranoid about their jobs if they don’t know what’s happening next, especially those who are not used to lone working outside the office. That’s why reassuring them and gaining their trust – with clear, inclusive and regular communications that keep everyone in the loop – is essential.

It’s also important to provide guidance and tips as to how and when to work, and, of course, your employees need all the tools necessary to work away from the office and stay in touch with their colleagues and teams. 

2. Flexibility

Remote working brings different challenges to different people. Some live alone, while others are not only working full time but also looking after children or elderly parents. Some people can’t sleep at night and are unable to focus during the day, yet others will be thriving in their new working environment where there are far fewer distractions compared with the office. 

Organisations need to provide the right tools and systems to help individuals to adopt their own unique way of working from home. It’s all about providing the right level of personalised support to everyone, which could mean providing mental health first aid, crisis support or an employee assistance programme (EAP). 

Even if employees appear to be working as normal, they may be in shock. Some of these people may have the self-awareness to go and seek help on their own accord but others may not even realise the effect the pandemic is having on their mental health. 

Once normality is re-established, people will finally be able to take a step back and reflect on what has happened. Right now, it’s important for organisations to consider the further, sometimes hidden, implications of this crisis. Essentially, provide employees with flexible working conditions and sufficient time and space to get through this period of significant change.

3. Encourage innovation

Unfortunately, with all the disruptive change taking place, some businesses won’t survive, although others will thrive. We all know that engagement comes from keeping workers challenged and excited about their work. There has never been a better time to encourage innovation and creativity.

After all, it’s often in the face of adversity that mankind achieves the biggest breakthroughs. For example, University College London and Mercedes Formula One have just developed a breathing aid that can help to keep Coronavirus patients out of intensive care. It was created in under a week. 

Consider creating focus groups in which employees are tasked with finding ways to develop new products or deliver your services faster. As well as encouraging innovation, this could also lead to greater value for your clients. Give your workers the opportunity to contribute actively to the long and short term strategies.

4. Create communities

More than ever, we need to communicate and network, albeit remotely. This has led to a massive surge in Zoom calls, Microsoft Teams meetings and so forth. As humans, we are wired to interact with each other, and the good news is that during this lockdown scenario we can carry on the conversations using wireless technologies. 

As everyone remotely connects to one another, the population is communicating not only to carry out their daily work but also to make sense of what’s happening in the world. It’s important to enable and encourage the workforce to talk and build stronger communities in the workplace and beyond. Make sure you give people the freedom and the tools they need to interact and reach out. 

5. Altruism

In times of uncertainty and unrest, encouraging and supporting corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities is an excellent way to create “feel good” vibes across the workforce and the wider community.

For instance, consider giving people a day off once a quarter, or once a year, to dedicate time to a voluntary cause. Altruistic initiatives in times of crises help those involved to forget about their own fears and uncertainties, and they are a great way to boost morale.