How to Set Employee Expectations for Remote Work and Communication?
Lots of people are struggling to engage with the remote workforce, and this shouldn’t be a surprise. With the rapid expansion of technology and the pandemic confining people to their homes, it has created an increase in it. Between 2019-2021, the remote workforce tripled according to the US Census. This raised many questions like how to set employee expectations for remote work and how to increase remote communication engagement.
Now that we are coming out of isolation and returning to a more natural state, this is a practice that has stayed with us. This means that questions of remote engagement have not gone away. According to McKinsey, 58% of Americans have the opportunity to work from home at least once a week, and 35% have the option to work from home five days a week.
It’s caused a massive culture shift-one that includes many risks as well as rewards. According to Hubstaff’s Remote Project Management Report, 45.8% of remote managers state that a lack of communication is the biggest challenge to managing remote work.
Without face-to-face engagement, it can be hard to create a cohesive workplace, where everyone feels included, heard, and happy. What does successful remote communication look like? How do you host remote employee engagement activities in a fragmented work environment?
There are many ways to ensure everyone’s success. Some strategies include setting standards right off the bat, measuring communication engagement, and planning social activities.
How to set employee expectations for remote work
It is difficult navigating how to set employee expectations for remote work. How is everyone supposed to come together when they aren’t in the same location? Experts suggest the following best practices:
- Set a weekly meeting time
Consistency, according to MIT Sloan Management Review, is a crucial element of effective communication in remote work. This is a great way to make it consistent and open, with opportunities for questions when they have them. Talk about what projects are on the horizon, what each person is working on, general company updates, and anything else that’s relevant. If you want even more insight into what is going on with them, they could be camera on mandatory.
- Be clear about when you should be working
People crave structure. That’s why Northern Michigan University says it is so important to establish a routine. It makes life a lot easier when there are times that are set aside to be productive. If people have set times that they need to work, then there is less guessing about what they are doing with their time. Making sure that everyone works from 9 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday makes it easier for everyone to align.
- Create to-do lists for everyone
To-do lists or task lists create targets that people should hit while they are working. That way, you are eliminating as many guessing games as possible. Your employees know what they should be doing and you know what rate they are working at. Maybe this can be a part of the weekly communication blast they receive.
Engage remote workers through remote communication
Successful remote communication is built on high levels of engagement. But if you don’t know if they are engaging, then how do you even start?
There are many internal communication platforms that measure engagement in order to get everyone reading and actively responding to messages.
A lifeline that is cut when you’re not face to face is acknowledging that they have received/read the message. But there is a way to measure this in an easy and effective way. If you put acknowledgments within email blasts, there is a number that tells you how employees are engaging with them, especially if they are important communications that are not as gripping.
Remote communication can also benefit from individualized messaging. How are people supposed to feel good about the work they are doing, the company they are working for, and the branding behind it if they just feel like an email address among hundreds or thousands? Custom communication means each person is getting content based on attributes (interests, location, position, and others). This makes each employee feel important.
For example, systems like Broadcast allow for personalization fields. This allows people to send emails (blasts) that look like they are individually sent. According to the Cerkl product stats, personalized emails always perform better versus those with default settings. Data shows that the click-through rate and open rate for default setting performed much lower for every sending frequency (up to 60x lower for daily delivery). Omnichannel capabilities elevate personalization even more. Once a piece of content is consumed in one channel, it won’t appear on the rest of them.
Deskless workers can also be a major barrier to navigate. Without having a “basecamp”, it seems difficult to keep communication streamlined. However, with an employee mobile app, every employee has an internal communication platform to receive updates and ask questions without it being connected to a desktop, leading to a better experience for your remote workforce.
Remote employee engagement activities
Synchronous opportunities to bond with co-workers and participate in something fun might not sound like a hit. However, if you pick the right remote employee engagement activities then it might end up being a fun and interactive way to get to know each other.
One activity that makes people feel good about their work is a virtual banquet for awards and recognition. Who doesn’t like being recognized for their accomplishments or shown appreciation for their hard work? People will also see all of the unseen work that their peers are doing.
While it may have sporadic attendance, a scheduled lunch time where anyone can join and eat could be a great way to build relationships. Creating opportunities for in-depth conversations and closer bonds is better in small groups, so the people who show up will get a lot out of it.
Something that requires more team building and intense focus is an office olympics. While this isn’t a remote activity, there is still room for remote employee engagement activities that take place in person. Solving puzzles, engaging in physical challenges, and working as a team can really put your people to the test. This is an awesome opportunity to gauge how well they work together. It is important to the office and fun to try and solve something as a group! At Cerkl, we do a Broadcast Bowl with different teams and activities. Everyone meets at the office for one day and gets to see each other face to face, with different teams competing to win the trophy.
While remote and hybrid work can have negative effects on an organization, it can be managed well. There seem to be lots of shifts being made, from onsite to fully remote. Then it is a hybrid of modes until there is another decision to go back in person. The workforce is fluid right now, and you need the flexibility to respond. Companies need to find adequate ways how to set employee expectations for remote work through effective remote communication. Without an open mind and trial and error, there is no way to know how successful it could have been.
Find out how successful companies set clear and realistic employee expectations for remote work and improve remote communication. Get the template they use for free, no risk, no commitment.
- Review the types of content your team creates and distributes across your channels
- Outline all of your department’s channels and mediums
- Measure the frequency of each platform
- Receive suggested employee survey questions
- Access a personalized, downloadable audit to share within your organization.
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