Remote working drove news headlines recently in the wake of a Wall Street Journal profile on IBM. A pioneer of work-from-home flexibility, IBM is changing course. They offered work-from-home employees a choice: Relocate to a regional office or find another place to work. So why the sudden change after decades of their popular remote work program? The company hopes that bringing employees back into the office will improve collaboration and productivity.
Could IBM’s move mark the end of work-from-home options for employees? In short, probably not.
We know that flexible work options are a top priority for job seekers. In fact, our research says 75 percent of employees want flexibility. And research from FairyGodBoss shows that after compensation, flexible hours trump every other factor when women are deciding on a job offer.
With demand for remote work options at an all-time high, it seems that even with a policy reversal like IBM’s, the flexible work trend isn’t going anywhere.
So how can you make a culture of remote work actually work without losing collaboration and productivity?
We’ve got some ideas:
1. Show remote employees you care
When employees believe employers care about their health and well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged and 18 percent more likely to go the extra mile for the organization. Limeade sends care packages directly to remote employees’ home offices. Notice an employee has been feeling under-appreciated in their daily work? Send them a small gift card to a local coffee shop to get their day started. A small token of appreciation will go a long way to show your remote employees you care.
2. Set them up with the right tech
It might sound obvious, but employees will thrive with access to the right tools. Whether it’s providing online trainings or simply making sure your IT team is readily available, helping employees make their home office as advanced as company headquarters will help boost productivity.
3. Encourage social interaction
Collaboration and productivity don’t just happen during work hours or in the office. Provide all employees the ability to interact over different social media platforms. At Limeade, we encourage social interaction through a company Facebook group to keep all employees in the loop on competitive program challenges, weekend activities and even major life events.
4. Communicate well and often
Communication is key. Are your internal communications geared only to onsite employees? If so, you’ll need to revamp all communications so they apply to everyone. This emphasis on communication goes both ways ― meaning you’ll need to stay up to date with remote employees daily wins and any roadblocks they might be facing.
Encourage consistent 1:1’s between managers and their direct reports to keep lines of communication open. Provide tools like Skype, Slack or Microsoft Teams to invite communication and collaboration across offices.