To prevent your employees from feeling isolated when remote working, listen to their needs and turn disadvantages into advantages.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen just how detrimental feelings of isolation can be for our teams. Even employees who might have assumed they would be comfortable “working alone” have learned their creativity and productivity can suffer when they are out of the office for an extended period.
Unfortunately for many companies, lockdowns and restrictions may mean teams are required to work from home in certain situations. When this happens, companies need to be prepared to assist employees in operating effectively from home.
The reality of isolation
While most organisations didn’t expect the shift to hybrid and remote working to happen as quickly as it did, there can be benefits to having a distributed workforce. Enabling team members to work from home, at least some of the time, can improve productivity levels, reduce the cost of in-house staff, and even enhance overall business performance.
These benefits are why many companies have begun implementing long-term hybrid working strategies. However, the reality of employee isolation has many companies focusing on hybrid work environments rather than all-remote operations. For some employees, an in-office connection with colleagues is still the preferred way to work. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible during periods of isolation.
With infections on the rise again, a number of countries are edging towards more lockdowns. The demand for caution on a greater level means many people will soon be asked to isolate again.
Companies heading into the next wave of lockdown, with the same lack of preparation exhibited during earlier lockdowns, risk significant issues with employee isolation. Decreases in productivity and engagement can be expected, pushing companies further behind on meeting targets.
What we’ve learned
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned during these times is companies need a strategy in place. In many cases, organisations have responded to the issue ‘as best they could’, rather than having a pre-defined strategy to deal with employees, communications requirements, and the isolation factor, among other things.
Preparation provides the tools required to maintain the level of productive engagement companies need to thrive. In the previous lockdowns, half of the working world saw losses in productivity simply because people weren’t equipped to work in a new environment. Organisations need to ensure the right strategies are in place to help employees – particularly those who have spent decades working in an office environment and whose well-being is dependent on routine.
Tips for the next wave
One of the most important things companies can do right now is plan. The sooner they identify the right technology and tools, the better off they’ll be.
Companies need to think about how they can provide the best possible work experience for their employees. They need to look at how to keep people engaged, happy, and connected when they’re at home, and what management can do to encourage high levels of productivity and efficiency.
Success won’t come by simply ‘doing your best’ to address issues as they present themselves. Companies need to look to the future and consider long-term flexible strategies.
There are several essential considerations going forward. For instance, the applications and tools you select to enable your workforce must integrate with your current services and systems. Flexibility will be vital for businesses hoping to evolve. Stability in the tools will also be critical. While communications systems can experience issues, selecting the right vendors and partners to support your workplace transformation can provide stability.
Listen to your employees
Companies need to listen to their employees. Creating open communications in an evolving workplace is essential. Not only does being ‘listened to’ help employees feel less isolated – it also lets companies collect information about what is important to their staff.
Establishing a strong internal communication channel is a ‘must-have’ to prepare for ongoing lockdown situations. You’ll need to find multiple ways to collect employee feedback. If you try to implement technology your employees don’t want, without their buy-in, problems such as shadow IT can crop up.
While any sudden and unwanted transition can be a complicated experience for a business, companies have an opportunity to prepare more effectively for change — whatever may lay ahead.
Learn how Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise can help your company prepare for the future, while keeping business thriving, employees engaged, and customers happy, today.