Almost a year! Yes, it really has been almost a year since millions of people around the world were forced to switch office spaces, lunch breaks with colleagues and ergonomic desks to home offices and remote work. While we all thought the unusual times would last a month or so, we have realised that remote work, with it’s pros and cons, is here to stay.
Facing the fact that our organizations, ways of working together, the concept of the workplace have changed for good, we should not just adapt but actively rethink what makes us happy at work and define what the new elements of employee satisfaction are in 2021 and beyond.
Building stronger organizations by shifting our focus to humanity
Though digitalization has given us freedom to choose where and, sometimes even when to work, most of us have seen and experienced the struggles of remote work. Different studies around the globe have shown that remote workers say that their biggest challenges are:
- collaboration and communication
- loneliness and isolation
- not being able to unplug
The studies indicate that despite learning to use digital tools to work together remotely, we have not succeeded well enough to fulfil the basic human needs, such as sense of belonging, togetherness or being seen and heard in our remote organizations.
Rapid changes require us to re-shape Employee Experience and remote work cultures
While in the middle of the crisis, focus was on short term actions to save businesses and ensuring operational efficiency, 2021 must be the year when we shift the focus from remote management to remote leadership and remote work wellbeing.
Here are five high-impact actions you can make to take advantage of the next normal and improve your remote Employee Experience:
1. Create a single, engaging source of truth where all critical information lives to avoid confusion and FOMO
You have 99 new notifications, 65 new emails and 17 share documents after a meeting or a lunch break. Now that teamwork happens remotely, it has become harder to navigate in the jungle of instant messages, documents and feeds than ever before.
Working remotely has brought the trend of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), an anxious feeling of being left out or missing something relevant, to our workplaces. Two important attributes of a good Employee Experience are transparent communication and clarity as well as ease of finding relevant information.
Simple tip: Make sure your organization has simple, clear, human-centric information structures and communication routines. Many challenges remote workers face can be fixed with better organized information flow, such as user friendly, human-centric and organized intranets. Foster user-generated content creation, use personalization and humanized content, and enable feedback and dialogue to build trust and togetherness.
2. Use technology to bring transparency to Change Management
In the climate of uncertainty and changes in the organization, we need to be aware how we are doing as individuals and teams. By enabling people to say how their workday is, which elements worked and which should be improved and how, you not only learn more about your organization’s wellbeing levels but also identify strengths, bottlenecks and emerging issues.
By taking an Employee Experience or Employee Satisfaction measurement in real-time, you not only feel the pulse but can take immediate actions, and encourage people to co-create new ways to improve working life for everyone. Data also helps you to review how well your organization is adapting to changes and to focus on fixing the right elements of Employee Experience.
3. Tech stack + Human needs = Better Remote Experience
Co-creating engaging, future-proof remote organizational cultures require breaking the silos. Now even more so, we need to be creative on how to use digital tools and platforms to increase human-to-human approach, find new ways to engage people, and to fulfil the human needs mentioned above.
A strong collaboration between CIOs, CTOs and HR, Communications is needed. This year, focus on unleashing the full potential of your digital tools and the power of humanity together!
4. Human-to-Human approach to remote leadership
The current situation, where remote leadership and change (or even crisis) management are needed in parallel, requires a new type of leadership. Especially team leaders who have not led virtual organizations before might feel puzzled. This year focus on improving the following leadership skills:
- clear communication skills in all mediums (written, phone, video, chat..)
- transparency and consistency in decision making
- ability to encourage open dialogue and co-creation
- ways to show high-empathy and emotional intelligence
5. Do not just focus on today’s issues, but encourage workforce to look towards the future
It is easy to agree that the future of work can happen anytime, anywhere seamlessly. But what still needs to be sorted out together is “what makes us happy at work?”, “how to increase the sense of togetherness?” and “how we want our company / daily work life / teamwork / communication to be in the future?”. We can learn from the challenges we faced last year, but now it is important to see the possibilities and get inspired about the future we can create together.
Encourage the workforce to imagine the future of work and share their ideas. Create a place for a collaborative future-oriented discussion within your intranet and facilitate future-optimistic virtual workshops.
By collectively shifting focus to the possibilities in the future, individuals, teams and organizations can find shared, inspiring goals and see what can be accomplished together (..and I can assure you that it will help people feel more connected and less isolated too!).
Shift the focus from crisis management to more human-to-human and forward-thinking mindset. Remote work and remote organizations are here to stay, so let’s make the best out of those!
Focus on empowering the workforce to co-create and reinvent engaging, motivating and inspiring remote work cultures together. Efforts put in Employee Experience now not only help in the short-term, but also build a more resilient future for your organisation and business.
Writer: Henna Ojala
Bio: Henna Ojala is a passionate Customer and Employee Experience Leader and Advisor. Henna works with C-suite, managers, and team leads from global enterprises to SMEs and startups who want to unleash the full potential of Experience Management. Henna has been working in one of the hottest startups in the world, HappyOrNot, the global leading real-time CX analytics company, and she is currently leading a start-up, Tuleva, that focuses on implementing Strategic Foresight to CX, Employee Experience, HRD, and skill development. Henna speaks about Human to Human aspects of leadership & customer experience in today’s digital world. She inspires how to lead change and engage all levels of the organization.