The working world has radically changed in the wake of the pandemic. Where remote work was once the stuff of daydreams or scam job offers, it has now become a legitimate work option for millions worldwide.
According to surveys, 16% of companies globally are now entirely remote. This shift to the acceptance of remote work and a digital workplace has led to necessary pivots in how employers onboard and lead employees or freelancers.
Employers have had to come to grips with the onslaught of changes in how we work, especially in the past few years. When more people began working remotely during the initial shutdowns brought about by the pandemic, many employers started to see the benefits of a remote workforce for the first time. Higher productivity; a better work/life balance, leading to happier employees; and tremendous cost savings for companies were the writings on the wall that were necessary for the entire world of work to change.
Now that more companies are moving to hybrid or fully remote work, the lingering question is: How can they help employees or even freelancers adjust?
One gripe about remote work from employers and employees alike has been regarding depersonalization. When your workforce is remote, you may not get to know their individual, niche skills as quickly or extensively as you would if they were in the office each day. Recognizing strong skills that remote employees have and then personalizing their duties according to them can help remote employees maintain a sense of pride and purpose in their work, even if it may, at times, feel like an island.
Remote work can get lonely, and there can be a feeling of separation between employees and their managers or other organizational leaders. Employers should offer opportunities for open communication among team members, anonymous communication should issues arise, and engagement with one another for teambuilding and camaraderie.
Luckily, videoconferencing software and technology have improved to the point where breakout groups can be formed, allowing people to hop into meetings with a single click. Leveraging technology and a strong communication structure can help remote workers feel less alone and more connected to their fellow employees.
Another way to foster teambuilding and a good remote environment is to offer regular teamwide training for employees on various topics. Companies can experiment with a variety of software and programs to disseminate information to employees. During weekly team meetings, leaders can also have different employees train on a variety of skills to not only keep the team informed and competent but also spark engagement with their fellow employees.
While C-suite execs may have been concerned that taking the workplace remote would result in a breakdown of skills and productivity, the options for ongoing training still exist in a remote environment. With the shift to remote work, many companies have introduced new software programs for project management, work delegation, and communication. Offering robust training programs for these new software applications should be integral to any move to a remote workplace.
When companies go all in on a remote workplace environment, they help bolster the overall idea that remote work is legitimate and productive and can lead to higher retention rates and employee satisfaction. A new era of work is being ushered in as technology and social norms change and influence how we do everything, including how we earn a living.
Nevertheless, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way, as everyone from the C-suite to the cubicle learns how best to work remotely—in-office environments and remote environments will never look identical. Still, the world has a present opportunity to structure this new remote workplace for the benefit of all who participate.
As everyone adjusts to this new world of work, open communication—and a lot of grace—will go a long way in helping foster a sense of pride and agency in our work, no matter what the nature of that work may be. The more companies agree to jump into the world of remote work and dedicate themselves to positive change, the more remote environments will become the norm and continue to change employee lives for the better.
Em Rodriguez, VP of Career Services at Cyberbacker.