How to create a great remote work environment
It has been a recurring theme of satellite labs, remote technologists and acquired laboratories for years; they feel a disconnect with corporate. Being away from the daily routine of corporate, many employees can feel like their professional environment is not understood by headquarters nor are they important enough to be considered in the decision-making process. That is why it is incumbent upon leadership to develop and foster an environment where all employees feel included.
Communications between remote employees and the corporate office should be about more than policies and procedures. Management should make it a priority to not only communicate with supervisors but also with the entire group. Get to know your employees’ personalities and concerns. Build a connection with the group and understand the needs and unique challenges they face as a group. Hold weekly virtual meetings to inform employees of the latest happenings at corporate.
If special events are planned for the main office, plan and help execute the similar event at the remote location. Involve the remote site in contests, town halls, corporate meetings, performance awards etc. Design a cost effect way for your remote techs to meet the department staff. Relationships are usually built between a few members of the home and remote staff. Make an effort to connect everyone virtually so that there are faces to the names.
Involve remote sites/techs in decision making processes when appropriate. This will help them feel like they are part of the company. Plan a trip to the site at least bi-annually. While there, get to know your employees to build a professional bond with them. Hold a general meeting and make yourself available for one-on-one meetings should employees wish to discuss a private issue. Understanding your remote group will help you advert any feelings of isolation that they may start to harbor. Ask someone from senior management to visit at least once a year. This action alone will make the staff feel like they are important and that they too have access to upper management. Also, treat them to lunch or an ice-cream social. Nothing boosts morale more than food!
Morale will suffer if your remote employees feel like they are not equally compensated. As we all know, compensation can differ from state to state due to individual state laws and cost of living. However, make sure that your remote employees are compensated at an equal proportion as their colleagues at corporate. Salaries are revealed and this can cause quite an uproar. If this happens, address it and explain the differences. Have HR visit to explain compensation, benefits etc., especially if there is a significant change in health insurance benefits.
In conclusion, do your best to make your remote group feel valued, appreciated and part of the company. Interact with them often and make yourself accessible to them. This will go a long way in preventing turn-over, boosting morale and productivity. Remember that your department is only as strong as your employees. Treat them with care.