Remote work isn’t a new concept, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit it became vastly more common.
Working remotely has a lot of perks, but it comes with downsides, too, one of which is a growing problem for employers: remote workers are becoming more disconnected from their employers’ missions.
The issue of employee disconnect is more nuanced than it may seem. Here’s a closer look at the phenomenon and what employers can do to stop it.
Disconnect Among Remote Workers: What the Statistics Say
Earlier this year, Gallup surveyed a group of 9,000 workers whose jobs could be done remotely. Of those whose jobs were fully remote, only 28% said they felt connected to their company’s purpose.
That number is down from 2022, when 32% of remote workers felt that connection. For the sake of comparison, the survey found that about a third of in-office workers felt connected to their company’s mission in both 2022 and 2023.
For those who are against remote work, that might seem like a sign to head back to the office. However, the survey also showcased a surprising metric skewing in favor of remote work: 38% of fully remote or partially remote workers were engaged and enthused about their work, compared to 34% of in-office workers.
Every company wants engaged employees. Consequently, rather than eliminating remote and hybrid positions, companies may be better off finding ways to help these workers feel more connected to their employers’ purpose.
How to Help Remote Workers Feel Connected
Want your team to feel more connected to your company, but unsure about how to do so? Here are some strategies to consider:
Cultivate Strong Leadership
Strong leaders hold workplace teams together. This is especially true when your workforce is partially or entirely remote. Paradoxically enough, sometimes focusing on individual employees can help a team function more effectively as a whole.
For instance, quarterly one-on-one meetings with a supervisor help employees understand the team’s goals and objectives for the upcoming quarter. They also give the supervisor an opportunity to explain how each employee fits into the company’s strategy as a whole.
When all of your employees understand your expectations and know exactly what they’ll be accomplishing, they are more likely to feel that they are an integral part in your company’s mission.
Give Your Employees Freedom to Choose
Remote workers feel appreciated and trusted when company leadership allows them to manage their work hours appropriately. Furthermore, when you make the effort to accommodate different working styles and schedules, you allow each employee to achieve peak productivity.
For instance, if you have the resources, you might offer employees an optional co-working space. This will allow remote workers to interact with other team members when needed or desired.
While some employees may decide to work in the shared space every day, some may prefer to be fully remote, while others opt for a mixture of the two options. Regardless, you’ll be fostering connection — just not at the expense of employee autonomy.
Create More Opportunities for Connection
Shared workspaces are one way to create connection. However, depending on your business model, creating a shared in-person workplace might not be feasible. Fortunately, you have other options.
One easy, low-cost way to connect is to create an active “water cooler” chat on Slack or other similar app. You might create prompts or fun contests to boost engagement. Even if your employees are scattered across the country (or the world), chats like these can help them remember that they’re part of something.
If possible, you might also consider providing in-person opportunities other than shared offices. For example, if your company is fully remote, you could organize an annual retreat or quarterly offsite meetings. Events like these are a great way to let employees interact and enjoy one another’s company. They also help employees put faces and voices to names.
When you work remotely, it’s easy to forget that you’re still interacting with real people. Company retreats are a memorable (and fun!) reminder.
A Great Work Environment Starts With the Right HR
You want your employees to see your company as an employer that values connection and autonomy. When you have a great HR team, creating an uplifting and supportive workplace culture is that much easier.
At Focus HR, we’re proud to offer personalized HR advice and services to small business owners. Our specialty is keeping employees engaged and happy. Whether your workforce is in-office, remote, or a mix of both, we’re ready to help.
Request a free consultation today, and let’s see what we can accomplish together.