5 Strategies that Will Stop Your Remote Workers Quitting

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HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sudden increase in the number of people working remotely around the world, so what can businesses do to support their staff at this time?

Article 4 Minutes

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on businesses in every global region, with widespread public lockdowns in the world's biggest economies cutting off revenue streams and preventing people from being able to work properly.

With governments and health experts emphasizing the need for social distancing and urging people to stay at home as much as possible, there has been a large and sudden increase in remote working. Experts are suggesting this could have long-term consequences for the world of work and how people view their jobs.

"This is unprecedented. It may change the workplace forever. Everyone will need to embrace a different sort of workplace behavior." - Ann Francke, Head of the Chartered Management Institute

 

For many employers, this abrupt change in working methods will raise questions around how you can keep your employees happy, motivated and productive - thereby minimizing the risk of them leaving - while they're working remotely.

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1. Stay in contact

One of the clearest risks that comes with people working remotely is that they will feel disconnected from the rest of the workforce and disengaged from the goals of the business as a whole. This can have a big impact on job satisfaction, as well as personal wellbeing, so it's vital to be proactive when it comes to staying in touch with people who aren't in the office.

Flexible and remote working have become increasingly common in recent years, so there are many well-established methods and technologies that make it easier than ever to maintain contact with every employee, wherever they are.

Effective strategies include:

  • Encouraging regular voice and video calls to catch up with people, rather than impersonal formats like email
  • Synchronizing work schedules so colleagues feel aligned with one another
  • Using video chat technology to help employees feel like they're working 'alongside' others

2. Resist the urge to micromanage

From a management perspective, it's understandable if people who are used to having constant face-to-face contact with their staff have some reservations about managing a remote team.

One of the potential consequences of this is that leaders will resort to micromanaging, in the belief that this is the best way to make sure important jobs get done. However, this could have a negative effect if employees feel they can't get on with their work properly because they're under constant scrutiny.

Your workers will feel happier in their jobs and more dedicated to the business if the organization demonstrates trust in its workforce - an approach that can deliver valuable results.

3. Embrace digital processes

As well as greatly improving your potential to stay in contact with remote workers, technology can support other aspects of your day-to-day operations in a way that benefits this portion of the workforce.

If, for instance, there are key business processes that require paperwork to be signed and scanned, it's important to make sure this can be done digitally so remote staff are still able to do their jobs properly.

One strategy that can deliver clear results on this front is moving key procedures and data storage from on-site IT infrastructure to the cloud.

4. Don't overlook progress and development

When people start working remotely, it shouldn't come at the cost of their professional development. The opportunity to learn and gain new skills is one of the key benefits many people look for in their jobs, so it's important this isn't overlooked or forgotten where remote workers are concerned.

Continuing to invest in training and development for all staff, regardless of where they're based, will demonstrate your commitment to your workforce and strengthen employee engagement and loyalty.

It will also help people gain the skills and knowledge they need to achieve the highest levels of productivity and efficiency when they're working remotely.

5. Beware burnout

It's true that a drop-off in productivity is a common concern for managers whose staff have recently started working remotely, but you also need to be wary of the opposite effect: people working too much and burning themselves out.

Doing your job from home can make it difficult to maintain boundaries between work and your personal life, so people in particularly demanding and time-consuming roles could find it difficult to switch off and get out of the work mindset. This can lead to problems like stress and exhaustion, which will harm productivity and job satisfaction.

You can help your remote workers avoid these problems by staying in regular contact with them and encouraging them to maintain positive habits like:

  • Setting reminders to take breaks
  • Telling their colleagues when they stop working and can no longer be contacted
  • Establishing a dedicated office or workspace within their home, if possible
  • Turning off work notifications on their phones when they've finished for the day

These methods can help you and your people maximize the benefits of remote working and mitigate the risks.

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