How to Optimize the Remote Employee Experience in 2022

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In two short years, the pandemic shifted work dynamics forever, with 72% of workers opting for a hybrid working method.

The shift from office to home has called for a rearrangement of employee engagement strategies, communication channels, and company dynamics so employees can acclimate to a new office landscape.

In a remote workspace, improving the employee experience (EX) means relying on new technologies and adapting work collaboration strategies. This impacts engagement strategies, company culture, career development opportunities, and a safe work environment.

1. Invest in Tools for Easier Team Collaboration

In a remote environment, the tools and technologies used on a daily basis are essentially the new workplace. The technology an employee uses defines their day-to-day work experience.

Tools for teamwork play an important part in the employee experience, with almost 80% of employees agreeing collaboration platforms are crucial to their jobs. And a McKinsey study found that social technologies can increase production of interactive workers by 20% - 25% in teams.

Improve employee experience and virtual team collaboration with platforms that help brainstorm, strategize, and envision outlines with cloud-based planning tools. For example, MURAL helps teams collaborate on virtual whiteboards. This enables teams to visualize a process without sending documents back and forth.

Another great tool for team collaboration is a project platform like Trello. Here, teams can break projects down into smaller tasks, assign responsibilities, and keep track of the progress of a project.

A Hewlett Packard study showed how companies that support teamwork with the right technology impact the employee experience. The study divided workplaces into Digital Revolutionaries (great digital infrastructure for employees) and Laggards (lacking tools for remote work). The study concluded that the right tools have a big impact on the overall EX and satisfaction, with 74% of Revolutionaries rating their job satisfaction as “good or very good” and 25% more Revolutionaries than Laggards reporting a sense of “positive wellbeing in the workplace.”

The right tools must also be accessible to every employee. A good tip is to use cloud-based applications, so every employee can access a platform regardless of their system or location.

Last, it’s a good practice for HR to do routine surveys and understand what employees like and dislike about a platform. That way, you understand which technology provides support and improves daily tasks.

2. Improve Internal Communication

Internal communication is key for companies to deliver better employee experiences. Simply put, without good communication, remote employees can quickly feel lost, disconnected, and alienated from a company’s purpose.

In fact, a study found that the number-one cause of low employee morale is bad communication. The best solution to combat low employee morale is to improve communication and the flow of information.

In-app messaging can help employees communicate with others without having to leave the platform, and it relieves the frustration of having to jump between platforms.

Large and growing companies may want to develop their own internal comms platform to match their needs. This is easier than it sounds, thanks to chat APIs that provide easy two-way communication that can store and exchange information from an app’s ecosystem. This improves EX as employees can share app information and tag any relevant team members in the channel.

Also, encourage the use of open communication channels as a way to improve the flow of knowledge in an organization. For example, have a channel for “internal tools” so everyone in the organization can keep up with new updates or ask questions on how to resolve a problem with a tool everybody uses. The main benefit is that no information is “hidden” in channels or departments. Instead, everyone is kept up to date.

3. Establish a Meeting Protocol

Set up a company meeting protocol to avoid unnecessary meetings, over-inviting, or disorganization, which affects the remote employee experience.

Start with a goal for each meeting. State the goal of the meeting in the calendar invitation, and start the meeting vocalizing the objective. That way, everyone understands the objective and what materials to prepare beforehand.

Only invite employees who have a direct impact on the task. You want to prevent employees from feeling that their time is being misused because they don’t have a direct impact on a meeting. However, it’s good practice to leave meeting notes in open channels so the whole company understands the outcomes later.

Hold meetings only when necessary so that employees aren’t distracted from their to-do lists. A study on executives found that out of 23 hours spent in meetings per week, about eight hours were unproductive, with 73% of attendees finishing other tasks during meetings. The underlying problem here is that some meetings are redundant, and most don’t need everyone to attend.

To understand EX during meetings, an HBR article recommends asking yourself, “Were people distracted? Conducting side conversations? Consider who did most of the talking. Was it you? One or two other people? Did the discussion stray to irrelevant topics? Were all the opinions and ideas that were expressed fairly similar?” This is a helpful pulse check to make sure employees leave meetings with a sense of motivation and direction.

In the meeting, improve the conversation by asking questions of individuals, requesting feedback, and encouraging as much collaboration as possible. Employees want to feel like they are part of the discussion, not in a lecture hall.

4. Allocate Time for Team Bonding

In the typical in-person office, employees can bond over coffee, in office spaces, and at fun work events. However, with remote work, a new channel of bonding needs to be created to improve employee experience and engagement with teammates.

The goal is to show employees that despite the remote nature of the work, their bond with their teammates is important and that company culture is built from those interactions.

Schedule remote team bonding activities such as a cooking class, a virtual escape room, or even a yoga class. These are ways for teams to interact virtually and build a team spirit that helps improve communication and collaboration in the long run. In a study by Nulab, 96% of respondents agreed that team exercises had a positive impact on team relationships, and 94% agreed that workplace satisfaction improved.

Another fun way to bond in meetings is through “watercooler talks,” a meeting between two employees in which they get to know one another without having to talk about work. This builds friendships and bonds that impact team performance. A study found that 57% of employees say work friends make their job more enjoyable. And 22% of employees agree that working alongside friends makes them more productive.

Last, schedule team-building workshops weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Here, employees can present and share knowledge skills with one another.

5. Introduce Company Culture from the Start

Onboarding is the first experience an employee has of your company and will affect their engagement in the following months as workers who are culturally integrated into a company are 18x more likely to fully commit to an organization.

To improve the onboarding experience of a new employee and get them settled as fast as possible, use an onboarding buddy system. An onboarding buddy is a teammate (usually in the same role) who supports, answers questions, and mentors the new hire. In fact, a study on Microsoft done by HBR found that new hires were 23% more satisfied if they had onboarding buddies who offered support and mentorship in their first 90 days.

Onboarding can be a stressful time, with new tools, new responsibilities, and pressure to perform well. In the onboarding stage, a helpful tool is an online resource platform, where company knowledge and information are stored in a centralized system. For example, Tettra is a wiki software that helps teams manage organizational knowledge and documents. The benefit of online resource centers for remote employees comes down to centralized and immediate access to information.

Last, set up feedback meetings with no other purpose than to make sure the employee is feeling supported and to answer any questions they may have. The one-to-one meetings give new hires time to ask managers for guidance on task planning or to answer any questions managers have on their tasks. Moreover, the allocated time improves the employee experience, with 72% of employees agreeing that a one-to-one meeting has a positive impact on their onboarding experience and how ready they feel for their role.

6. Support Employee Growth and Development

Future prospects have a big impact on EX, with 94% of employees agree that investment in learning and development would make them stay in a company for longer.Employees need to feel support and encouragement from the company to develop their careers.

To keep career growth and development top of mind, use goal trackers and monthly check-ins. Keep track of employees’ goals with KPIs and OKRs. Each employee should feel ownership and empowerment to identify their own goals.

Once KPIs and OKRs have been established, use a platform like Lattice for goal tracking and progression. Doing so improves employee accountability to work toward a goal and provides a transparent framework for management to supply the employee with the support and mentorship they need.

The setting of goals also depends on communication between management and employees. Have conversations with employees to understand their personal goals and match their objectives with the resources and support the company can offer.

For example, offer workshops, education resources, and accessible frameworks for everyone to understand what career progression looks like. Include the steps, expectations, and knowledge required for each career promotion. Frameworks give employees an outline to refer to as well as something to work on with their manager.

Recognition Is Key for Remote Employee Experience

Employee experience can be measured by engagement, task productivity, and sentiment feedback. But the underlying commonality to succeed is clear internal communication and recognition.

Recognition is an important feature of an employee’s overall experience, with 82% of employees agreeing that recognition is one of the main reasons for their workplace happiness. Providing feedback and recognition of an employee’s work shows how their work has an effect on the company’s overall health.

Transparent communication and recognition have an impact on an employee’s daily experience. They help employees understand that they are appreciated, what is expected of them, and what company updates might impact their daily tasks. All in all, employees want to feel like they’re part of a team and have an impact on the company's success.