Remote work is here to stay. In fact, 2022 research by Zippia found 26% of U.S. employees worked remotely, either full or part-time.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have been the catalyst for more Americans working from home, but the trend has gained widespread popularity. Before the pandemic, only 5.7% of U.S. workers held primarily remote or work-from-home positions, according to the Census Bureau. Zippia estimates by 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely.
The same Zippia report found over 90% of remote workers say their job productivity has remained the same or increased since leaving the confines of a traditional office. With an overwhelming majority of U.S. employees preferring remote work, companies are finding new ways to keep people engaged and focused.
To this end, companies are changing how remote employees are recruited, trained, promoted, and given feedback.
Keep reading to find out what employers are doing to keep workers happy and effective as remote work continues to grow in the U.S.
Restructuring Recruitment and Hiring
Screening candidates can be one of the most time-consuming parts of a recruiter’s job.
One-third of organizations completely overhauled their hiring processes to better equip themselves for hiring remote workers. The ratio is even higher for companies that have seen more productivity gains.
Many of these overhauls included using technology in new ways, including virtual interviews rather than in-person meetings. Companies also expanded the geographic ranges of their job postings because remote work lets them widen their candidate pool to consider highly qualified individuals who fit all their qualifications but happen to live elsewhere.
A report from Accenture and Harvard Business School found the majority of companies (90%) have tried automated reviews of candidates’ resumes. However, 85% of recruiters said it didn’t help find the best candidates and made the search more difficult.
Companies can fine-tune their automation settings to prevent highly qualified candidates from being excluded when their resumes do not precisely match the job description.
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The previously mentioned Zippia report showed that 1 in 5 remote workers say isolation is the biggest downside of remote work.
Encouraging communication among remote workers is critical for companies to keep production and employee satisfaction high. Companies that embrace instant messaging platforms like Slack allow remote workers to engage with real-time collaboration and feedback.
Communication is a two-way street; companies should ensure remote workers feel empowered to speak up. Some remote workers prefer phone conversations, while others like video calls or instant messaging. Taking time to recognize which mode of communication works best for each employee can aid management in keeping productivity levels high.
Communicating employee wins and achievements in creative ways, such as having a pizza or cake delivered, is another way for managers to show employee appreciation from afar.
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Training Managers on Remote Leadership
A 2020 Harvard study found 40% of managers felt unprepared to manage a remote team, and even more struggled to keep their team members engaged while working remotely.
“Manager training is key to helping keep people engaged, motivated and productive” in 2023, David Hassell, CEO of performance management technology platform 15Five, told the Society for Human Resource Management.
Managers must learn how to communicate with employees, set clear expectations, and translate the company culture when face-to-face interaction isn’t an option.
Micromanaging can actually lower remote workers productivity and morale. Management training teaches leaders how to identify micromanaging tendencies before it becomes a problem.
Remote managers should focus less on being in the same space as their employees and more on desired results, the operations manager for HubSpot, a largely hybrid-work company, told Employee Benefit News HubSpot.
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Encouraging self-leadership among remote workers increases accountability and efficiency.
Employees with the skills to manage themselves in the workplace and their personal lives are often more productive than those who require more hand-holding.
Managers need to encourage remote workers to build a strong sense of self-awareness so they can identify how they think, feel, and take action in different situations.
“Self-awareness is a superpower…What am I strong in and what are the things that I’m not strong in? … I’m recognizing that you know, I have gaps, and I should be filling in those gaps as opposed to just bringing more people that have the same experience and education,” Heidi Hauver, vice president of people experience at data-management company ShinyDocs told collaboration firm Fellow.
Allowing employees the autonomy to make decisions and assume responsibility for their success is another strategy companies use to promote self-leadership in remote workers.
Providing and Soliciting Frequent Feedback
Everyone wants to feel appreciated for a job well done. Remote workers are no exception.
Employees should feel their ideas and opinions matter. Managers should encourage two-way conversations with remote employees by actively listening to concerns and ideas. Providing regular feedback is just as critical as allowing employees to give their input to management.
Remote workers report less job burnout and find more meaning in their jobs when management encourages them to ask thoughtful questions and seek frequent feedback. Simply asking, “how are you doing?” regularly is an easy way to improve remote workers’ performance.
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Guest Writer: Aubrey Jane McClaine