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Monday, April 24, 2023

Remote Leadership and the Employee Experience

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When businesses were forced into remote work a few years ago due to the pandemic, many were just focused on making their operations work in a digital environment. They were hardly focused on revamping their company cultures to support such a transition.

But now, we’re seeing remote work become a staple in the workforce. As more and more employees seek it, establishing an intentional remote work culture is critical if you want to offer this option in your company. 

Before we cover ways leaders can create a remote work culture that supports a positive employee experience, let’s dig into why the employee experience is critical for remote work.

Why the Employee Experience Is So Important for Remote Work

Remote teams offer so much to any business. For example, the flexibility of remote work inspires employee productivity and engagement. Businesses can save money on overhead costs. In addition, remote work gives employers access to a global talent pool. 

If you want to reap these and the many other benefits that come with having remote workers,  you must create a workplace environment that supports them unequivocally. And if you think your employees should be grateful to you for simply providing the opportunity and no other provisions, you might be wrong. Some may even be lonely and struggling with their mental health.

Recent research from Zippia on remote work revealed that 50% of the remote workers surveyed reported feelings of loneliness at least once a week. In addition, 19% cited isolation as their number one issue with remote work, and 70% said they felt left out of the workplace.

Feeling isolated, lonely, and left out doesn’t equate to a highly engaged, happy employee. That’s why it’s so important to address any challenges you’re having with creating the proper culture for remote work.

A supportive, positive remote work culture is what sets the tone for a good employee experience.

In addition, the employee experience is directly tied to the experience your customers will have. When your remote employees feel wholly supported and prepared to do their jobs well, they're more enthusiastic and productive in their roles — which translates into communicating with and serving customers well.

Ultimately, you must embrace your remote work culture to ensure your work-from-home employees are at their best.

How Leaders Can Improve the Remote Employee Experience

Your remote team deserves just as good of an employee experience as your in-office workers. Aside from that, the business and team benefits mentioned above should entice you to provide the culture they need to thrive.

Here are three ways you can improve the employee experience for your remote team.

Mirror the in-office employee onboarding experience

Think about the typical onboarding experience for in-office employees. You show them to their desk and introduce them to the team. They fill out HR paperwork and go over their roles and responsibilities. They also get to explore the office and settle into the culture.

New remote workers hardly get the same onboarding experience. A Zoom meeting to introduce them to everyone on the team. After that, a quick overview of the tech tools and software they’ll be using. And finally, a summary of the work they can get started on.

If you want to build a strong remote company culture, focus on providing a meaningful onboarding experience for new employees. It should mirror the in-office employee onboarding experience in that new workers get a virtual tour of the office and a memorable welcome from the team.

Set aside time for them to video chat with HR to ensure all necessary paperwork is complete. They can also get lingering employee-experience questions answered.

Lastly, set aside time to thoroughly cover:

       The tech tools they’ll use;

       How to contact the team;

       Their role and daily responsibilities;

       The details of their first few projects;

       Upcoming events and projects that will facilitate them getting to know their coworkers.

You may have to extend the onboarding experience for a few weeks to ensure there’s enough time to get everything done.

Pair remote workers with in-office team members

As mentioned above, many workers feel lonely and left out of the workplace when they work from home. This affects their attitude and the quality of the work they produce. It also affects their ability to form meaningful relationships with coworkers and managers.

Pairing remote workers with in-office team members could be a solution to this. Having that ally in the office can help remote employees feel more connected to in-office co-workers. It can bridge that gap to feel like an integral part of the team.

Assign an in-office team member to every remote worker. Be intentional about who’s paired up with who. Account for personalities, skillsets, experiences, similarities, and differences that can drive a good connection.

Make the introduction the first day a remote worker joins your team and stay on top of how the relationship blossoms.

Connect with remote workers daily

Being the leader of your team includes the responsibility of nurturing a genuine relationship with each of your employees. It’s easier to do this in an in-office setting because you have more opportunities to interact with the employees there.

You don’t have as many organic opportunities to engage with remote workers. If you don’t make the effort to connect with them regularly, it could result in them feeling unsupported and unappreciated.

Set a goal of connecting with remote workers daily. This could be a quick one-on-one video meeting every morning to check in and establish expectations for the day. It could be recognizing them for their work on a project. It could be an email or instant message exchange.

However you do it, let them know you’re there to support them every day.

You shoulder much of the responsibility for the kind of experience your remote workers have at your company. Establish a welcoming, supportive company culture to set the foundation for a positive remote employee experience they’ll want to stick around for.

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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