“To ensure effective communication, companies need to arm remote workers with the right tools — like Slack, pulse surveys and video conferencing — that make them feel like they’re a part of the team rather than apart from the team,” Sandhir says.
Here, specific vendors and functionality matter less than finding solutions that actually work well for your employees, says Erika Van Noort, senior director of talent acquisition at Softchoice.
Companies need to ensure that remote employees are able to function the same way they would at a desk in the office, Van Noort says. IT solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all, and — before enabling a modern, mobile and collaborative workforce — every organization first needs to understand how their employees work and how technology can enhance their productivity.
“Too often, organizations will jump into a technology implementation without first examining how it will integrate into current processes, as well as integrate with other technologies employees already use. That can hurt user adoption,” which, in turn, negatively impacts productivity and engagement, Van Noort says.
And, of course, the technology needs to work — and work consistently, Van Noort adds. Employees get disenfranchised easily if a technology fails or they can’t figure out how to use it.
“In our [Softchoice employee collaboration] study, 78 percent of [the approximately 1,000] respondents reported that they ‘frequently’ experience technical difficulties when collaborating with remote workers. This shows that the real downside organizations often associate with remote work isn’t that the employee isn’t physically in the office, but that they don’t have the proper technology in place to adequately facilitate remote collaboration,” she says.
The right technology tools don’t just facilitate good communication and collaboration, they also help remote workers connect on a personal level with colleagues, helping them feel they are a part of the office culture, just as they would be if they were physically on site, says Van Noort. That’s a major obstacle to a successful remote work strategy that’s often overlooked, she adds.
“Leveraging tools like video conferencing and screen sharing can go a long way in making remote workers feel included and help them feel that they’re not just in the same room as their coworkers, but ‘on the same page,’” she says. “Reducing the feelings of isolation and disengagement that so often crop up for remote workers is extremely important to boost engagement and productivity.”
“It's important that remote employees feel connected to their team members on a personal level, and are a part of the company's culture and values. Personalization is especially important in remote work arrangements, especially when it comes to engaging employees who work from home regularly,” says Sandhir.
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