We’ve seen a massive shift toward a digitized, online workforce over the last few years. It’s been a slow, gradual change that was massively accelerated by the global pandemic. Now, many workers report being unwilling to go back to how things were before.
And it’s hard to blame them. If you can get the same amount of work done while maintaining a better work-life-balance and spend more time with your family, why wouldn’t you fight to keep it? An estimated 30% of the American workforce who are currently working-from-home report being unwilling to go back to a full-time office work environment.
So, as a business owner, what can you do to keep your workers happy, engaged, and focused in this new digital landscape?
Countless workers cite a lack of happiness and engagement as their reason for departure during exit interviews. Many even go so far as to say that they are bigger deal breakers than salary and benefits package disputes.
Luckily for business owners, there are several steps you can take to improve the happiness and engagement rates of the employees within your organization. The simple act of shifting your company’s culture toward a remote-first model can go a long way in the eyes of your employees.
But it’s important to do your due diligence and research remote workflows thoroughly before making the switch, so that your business can remain efficient and hit the ground running when you actually make the switch and go full-time remote.
1. Cut Out the Busywork
Downtime and countless coffee breaks have become staples of office work culture, but they don’t translate well to a fully remote or work-from-home environment. Nobody wants to be confined to their laptop “working” when there aren’t any tasks to be completed.
All this does is make the employee feel like their boss doesn’t value their time. Tasks should have a purpose and move the company toward some sort of overarching goal. Whenever possible, make sure your employee understands the why behind what they’re doing. It will make them feel empowered and give them a sentimental stake in their works success.
Additionally, workplace productivity should be monitored by the completion of tasks rather than hours worked. What gets done is much more important than how long it takes. As a business owner or manager, you should decide how much work each employee can reasonably complete within a period of time and trust them to get it done correctly.
Of course, this is not a foolproof strategy, and the course should be adjusted as needed if certain employees aren’t meeting the goals you’ve set for them. Maybe they need additional trainings, tools, or assistance to accomplish their work.
This is a great opportunity to open a dialogue with them and constantly work toward improving your workplace environment. Discuss with them things that you can do to improve their working environment on an individualized, person-to-person level, and use the data they provide to tweak and improve your systems. Great businesses always growing and working to get better.
2. Streamline Meetings
Most people dislike meetings because they often feel pointless and wandering. Usually, this is because business’s have far too many of them. If you stretch three meetings worth of content out over five, it’s only natural for your employees to get bored and allow their minds to wander.
This problem is exacerbated in a remote-first work environment. It’s much easier to allow yourself to become distracted in a boring meeting when you’re in your own home, and many people do, making them slowly became disengaged with the company over time.
Luckily for business owners, this problem is one of the easier ones to solve. Try and cut down meetings whenever possible and fill them only with pertinent information. It’s okay to only have a five-minute meeting as long as you can get out all of the information that your employees need to complete their work.
3. Implement Asynchronous Systems
Many remote-first companies hire employees from countries all over the world, or at least people operating in different time zones within the same country. This makes communication difficult. What works well for one person might be an incredible burden for another.
One possible solution to this problem is to implement asynchronous systems wherever possible. Narrow down what types of communication happens within your business organization on a day-to-day basis and think about if it’s absolutely necessary for responses to be given in real-time.
If not, consider providing an asynchronous outlet for your various teams to talk back and forth with one another on their own terms. Products like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Discord all provide a robust ecosystem for asynchronous communication. These new tools can usually be coupled nicely with your pre-existing systems to improve your company’s overall workflow.
4. Trust Your Employees
Most importantly of all, you have to trust your employees. If you do your due diligence before hiring and take the necessary steps to successfully onboard them, then it shouldn’t be difficult for your employees to get their work done and complete the tasks you’ve assigned them.
But, of course, life is complicated. Unexpected events and burdens will inevitably pop up, and they might be harder to resolve being a fully remote company. You’ll have to build out various communication and leadership systems to keep your business organization thriving.