During the lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic, huge numbers of employees worked from home, but as restrictions eased, it became possible for them to return to the office. However, it soon became clear that the pandemic had caused a shift in the way we work. While some were glad to be back, enjoying the camaraderie of working in a group environment once again, others had much preferred to work from home. They were glad to avoid a costly and time-consuming commute to work and felt they achieved a better work-life balance. Many employers have also been happy to support those who wish to continue to work remotely, as it has helped reduce overheads in a trying economic climate. However, this has created a two-tier system, where remote workers may not feel as included in the workplace, something employers need to counter.
On the whole, remote working is good for productivity, with many employers reporting that their remote workers are more productive than their office-based counterparts. However, this could all change if the remote workers do not feel included in the decisions around policies and working arrangements. Remote workers who feel left out of the loop are more likely to experience anxiety, which can in itself lead to decreased performance and lower job satisfaction.
Good communication is key to making sure remote workers feel as included as their office counterparts. To prevent remote workers from feeling isolated, consider daily check-ins and virtual meetings, as well as making sure employees know who to contact for support.
If your business also has a lively social side, keep your remote workers updated with all events that are happening from casual after-work drinks to the office Christmas party, and ensure they know they are welcome. Team building events can also be used to bring your employees together.
Assuming your remote workers are not located too far away, flexible working may allow you and your workers to enjoy the best of both worlds. This system means that employees work in the office sometimes, perhaps on one or two days a week, while working remotely the rest of the time. In this way, they can fully feel like part of the office, while still having the convenience of working from home most of the time.
Flexible working also has the advantage of easily adapting to different circumstances. For example, if they need to be at home to care for an unwell child, they can still work. In the pandemic, this also would help those who contract Covid with very mild or no symptoms, as they can easily switch to homeworking without needing time on sick pay. Matrix Diagnostics can supply batches of Covid-19 tests for a regular testing routine, so that in the event of a positive Covid-19 test, a worker already has everything set up to work from home.
Including your workers, whether they are working in the office, remotely, or a mixture of both, helps to demonstrate how highly you regard them, helping to boost morale and encourage a positive working attitude both in the office and remotely.