Be Intentional About Employee Relations for Offsite Teams

In 2020, remote work stopped being the professional opportunity of the future and became the norm for a wide variety of companies. Businesses discovered the benefits of hiring remote employees in an unpredictable environment where office access isn’t always an option.

Business leaders have also seen first-hand just how valuable remote working can be. It provides access to flexible talent worldwide, reduces office overheads, and enhances team engagement. However, there is a significant challenge to this new productivity strategy too.

Working away from the office often makes team members feel isolated. If your team doesn’t feel connected, you will find it challenging to keep everyone properly motivated. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to improve employee relations, no matter where your team might be.

1. Help Remote Teams Stay Focused

It’s up to the managers of remote workforces to ensure that their teams feel as aligned as possible. Employees that operate outside of the office might feel detached from the rest of the team, and lose sight of the core values of the business. However, studies prove that successful companies thrive when their teams have a sense of belonging.

Ask yourself what you can do to guide your team members to success without constantly looking over their shoulders.

For instance, would assigning team members deadlines for specific tasks be a good idea to prevent procrastination and keep people on track? Setting short-term and long-term goals and celebrating each employee when they achieve them is a great way to foster both engagement and belonging and improve employee relations whether they’re sharing an office or working remotely.

A workforce management tool that allows you to attribute karma or points to employees that finish their tasks ahead of or on time is a potentially great way to keep all of your employees on the same page. Many Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) have employee engagement tools. These include recognition walls, manager check-ins, and anonymous suggestions boxes.

2. Understand the Hybrid Workforce

Many businesses in the modern landscape won’t be entirely remote or entirely onsite. The hybrid workplace is becoming increasingly common, where some employees work from home, and others attend the office. Understanding how to keep on top of these two different kinds of teams is crucial if you want your business to thrive and enhance employee relations.

Start by setting up a schedule that all employees need to follow, regardless of where they’re working from for meetings and conversations. Instead of in-person meetings, video conferences will ensure that everyone can get involved, no matter where they are.

To keep your in-office and out-of-office staff connected, it’s also worth formalizing a document highlighting which tools they should be using every day. Can everyone stay active on Slack, so no one loses track of the conversation? Are all tasks assigned on Asana so that everyone sees the part they’re playing in ensuring team success?

3. Support Suitable Schedules

Remote employees don’t have to work the same hours as your in-office employees to be productive. You might decide to give some of your remote workers more freedom over their schedule. However, you must set expectations when doing this.

For instance, if your employees choose their own hours, you’ll still need to ensure that they’re dedicating the right amount of time to their careers. A time tracking application can help with this. It’s also a good way to ensure that your employees aren’t overworking themselves or working unsustainable hours.

You might also need to set guidelines on when your employees invariably need to be available. For instance, they may choose whether they come to the weekly chat session, but everyone needs to show up at 9 a.m. on a Friday for a group meeting.

Empowering your team to choose their own hours is a great way to give them more freedom. However, you still need to ensure that your employees know how to handle things like time tracking, paid time off, and even rearranging their schedule when they need to take days off.

4. Make Collaboration Fun

Connecting with your team members doesn’t have to be boring. For some remote workers, joining one meeting after another can get a little monotonous over time. If you want to keep everyone feeling engaged and interested in the collaborative experience, look for ways to shake things up.

For instance, you might allow teams to use gifs and emojis in water-cooler rooms on Slack and Microsoft Teams when they’re not talking about work. Outside chat that has nothing to do with the workplace is a great way to strengthen employee bonds and camaraderie.

When you’re having informal meetings, consider encouraging your team members to use fun filters or virtual backgrounds with apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to spice things up a bit.

While these features might not be suitable for every meeting, they’re a great way to turn things upside down when your employees start to feel drained.

If you’re not sure what would make collaboration more engaging for your team members, ask for their feedback, and listen to it. Your employees are sure to have some useful tips to share.

5. Manage Data Sharing the Right Way

For teams to thrive in an environment where remote working is becoming more common, there needs to be a constant flow of information in the workforce. Employees need to know where they can access useful information and what the guidelines are for dealing with particular data.

To protect yourself from information issues, create a single location for your staff to use as an internal knowledge base when accessing important data.

Ensure that the only employees who have permission to alter or move that information are those who need it most. Poorly managed licenses represent one of the most common causes of data loss.

It may also be worth having a set of best-practice guidelines that your teams can follow for insights on how to use information effectively and keep data safe. After all, no one likes to have their files or data altered without their permission.

Strengthen Your Employee Relations

As the workplace continues to change, with more remote and hybrid working practices emerging all the time, managers and supervisors need to know how to keep employees connected. Make sure that a new remote work policy doesn’t damage engagement within your team. Be proactive and intentional about maintaining good relations. Your team will be more effective and your employees will be more likely to achieve their individual career goals.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters
Latest posts by Joe Peters (see all)