After a year of social distancing, it finally seems that the end to the coronavirus crisis is nigh — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is returning to the workplace. Many businesses have seen the value of allowing employees to work from home (WFH) or work remotely from pretty much anywhere: reduction in costs related to office upkeep, higher productivity from workers, brand benefits like sustainability and so much more. It might be that you, like so many employers, are considering getting rid of the business office entirely and maintaining a fully WFH workforce.
However, regardless of whether you have required working remotely only for the pandemic or you expect to continue WFH practices going forward, you need to make extra efforts to show your distant employees that you care. Here are a few good practices for maintaining morale amongst your employees near and far:
Build a Culture of Appreciation
Workplace culture has an incredible impact on almost every aspect of a business. Some cultures encourage excitement and engagement amongst employees to drive productivity; other cultures cause conflict, consistent worker turnover and customer dissatisfaction. The culture that you curate will depend on your own personality, your business’s brand and a few other factors — but if you want your remote workers to feel included, you absolutely must include gratitude as a core tenet of your culture.
Changing your culture to include appreciation will take conscious effort from you and your other business leaders. Here are some activities to integrate into communication with all workers, but especially those who typically work outside the office:
Compliment workers often. The best compliments center on work; you might compliment a worker for a good suggestion or a smart correction. However, as long as compliments aren’t inappropriate in nature — and are equally given men and women — you might also compliment personal changes like new outfits or haircuts.
Share praise from customers/clients. Every so often, a supremely satisfied client will offer admiration for a job well done. You should share their comments with the team responsible for pleasing the client, and you might let the rest of the company how well that team is performing, too.
Seeing you and other leaders appreciate workers will drive your employees to appreciate their peers in turn. Then, remote workers will receive plenty of positive feedback to help them stay motivated and connected to your company.
Recognize Personal Events and Achievements
It has been months since you saw many of your WFH employees, and you might never meet your remote workforce. Still, knowing about them as individuals and staying abreast of their personal life developments is a key way to show you care.
In addition to celebrating work-related achievements, like completed projects and promotions, you should congratulate your employees when they reach important milestones in their personal lives. For example, if your business isn’t too large, you should try to give each individual their own birthday announcement, so they feel unique. When it comes to more personal events, like marriages or pregnancies, you should get a worker’s permission before notifying the rest of the company and encouraging congratulations. If the employee is more private, you could discreetly send them an appropriate gift, like a bottle of Champagne or a bundle of onesies. By recognizing these personal occasions, you demonstrate that you value your employees as people, not just labor, even when you don’t see them in the office every day.
Be Generous With Company Swag
Often, when a business gets a new shipment of branded merchandise, business leaders leave a good amount out in the breakroom or distribute bits and pieces to those workers around the office. Unfortunately, this means that remote workers often lose out on the opportunity to rep their employers’ swag — which is a missed opportunity for you and your business.
If you make it a habit to purchase unique and fun swag like custom bags for your business, you should be sure to send boxes of merch to your WFH and remote employees. You might even send out extras of the inexpensive items, like pens and stickers, for your remote workers to distribute to family and friends. Then, you will get the most mileage for your swag and keep your out-of-office workers happy.
Most companies do some business with remote workers, whether they are full-time employees in different locations or contractors and freelancers working on a temporary basis. You should value your remote workforce as much as you value those who work at your business HQ — no matter how long it has been since they have set foot in the office.