The rise of remote work has reopened conversations around employee experience in 2021. Recent studies have revealed that remote working at the time of the pandemic has left many families at their breaking point, and particularly has increased stress on women. Although the pandemic has been crucial in pushing remote work to the fore, it has also made us realize that all is not rosy in the world of work-from-home. For the first time since discussions began, we have reached a point where we now understand its drawbacks, and what accelerators are needed to overcome its limitations – especially when it comes to managing employee experience.
How the reality of work from home differs from the imagery often associated with it – lounging in PJs, sipping on a cup of coffee, checking email over the phone – came as a surprise to many. The hard reality of remote work is that it takes a lot of dedication. Distractions are plenty. Loss of face-to-face interactions means a lot is lost in translation. Boundaries between work and home blur more often than they should.
Given that the future of work is remote or at least hybrid, companies need to take stock of the situation and improvise a goal plan that will enable them to manage employee expectations better.
1. HR needs to take on a marketing spin
Less than one-third of companies conduct employee experience surveys at least on a quarterly basis, as per a recent report. This has to change. HR of the future will learn to view and treat employees as internal clients. This tectonic shift in the way employees are perceived will not only impact how their priorities are managed but also how their issues are viewed and handled. In addition, HR will need to take the help of technology to drive exceptional employee experiences, whether that be in terms of tailor-made programs or always-on feedback.
2. Invest in practical collaborative technologies
Employee wellness and productivity depend on the availability of the right remote platforms to communicate their ideas clearly and powerfully, as done in person. In the past, many CIOs cited lack of visibility as a primary reason as to why they were not in favor of adopting the remote work culture. But, today that argument no longer holds water. Thanks to rapid advances in technologies, people are capable of building a strong digital presence online and communicating better.
The key to great EX is in getting the basics right. This does not involve investing in expensive software, gadgets, and gimmicks. Ask yourself – do my employees have the right tools and technologies through which they can reach out and collaborate with their teams, communicate to customers, and work on feedback in real-time? That should be a great starting point.
3. Embrace the benefits, but watch out for the risks
It is estimated that "a typical employer can save about $11,000 year for every person who works remotely half of the time." Let that sink in for a minute. It sounds great, doesn’t it?
But then, remote work also comes with its fair share of risks. Let’s take cybersecurity as an example. As end-points stretch beyond the office space, it drags up a fair amount of cyber risks. These are real threats to the sustainability and reputation of a company. Alongside reaping the administrative benefits that work from home brings, companies need to invest in the right technology infrastructure that will mitigate associated risks.
For companies that are fundamentally rigid, managing employee expectations in a remote working environment might be understandably more difficult than for organizations that are more fluid. Many industries still view permanent work-from-home as simply not feasible or involving insurmountable risks. Ultimately, it takes a top-down effort to understand the nature of the organization and how far these arguments are valid.
Even for companies that have adopted remote work, problems like employee burnout are a real concern. There are several reports of video fatigue in the US. A remarkable 76% of employees have reported burnout on the job. Remote work has also exposed the glaring gender gap in our midst, as reports reveal how women are more vulnerable to the economic effects of COVID-19.
Managers need to spend more time understanding their employees and gathering feedback to explore how they are coping with this new mode of working. Instant feedback mechanisms, like Dropthought, are effective at doing this.
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