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effective ways to avoid isolation of remote workers

12 Effective Ways to avoid isolation of remote workers

The Covid-19 pandemic fast-forwarded a haphazard move to remote work. Remote work itself has got both positive and negative opinions. Even as the pandemic has subsided, remote or hybrid work modes are still going on, thanks to the numerous benefits. It is among the workplace trends of 2022. Employees can now widen their job search to include the whole world. Workplaces are increasingly adopting hybrid teams to get support from experts that are not available locally. Therefore, ensuring a remarkable remote experience becomes crucial to an excellent in-office experience. Managers may need to add an arrow or two to their quiver to resolve the concerns of remote workers. Remote work seems here to stay; that is why bringing up issues specific to it is pertinent.

Every method comes with its own set of unique challenges. Challenges associated with remote work have many facets, including technological, organizational, managerial, or mental issues. In remote mode, the absence of regular face-to-face interaction can put the employees in an unfamiliar situation. Many employees have wanted to return to conventional workplaces due to their loneliness and isolation during remote work. The lack of clear spaces for interaction prevents normal social behavior. As a result of staying apart, with only professional interaction happening, employees can feel isolated. An isolated employee would think they do not have access to things needed to actively participate at the workplace, in professional events, and beyond.

What does the isolation of employees in remote jobs look like?

The consequences of this isolation are detrimental at the personal and organizational levels. Firstly, an employee feeling isolated will end up drawing away from the team. Their interest in work-related activities tends to drop. Isolation at the workplace also prevents them from giving their unperturbed attention to work. Therefore, it becomes imperative for managers to ensure that their employees working in the remote or hybrid mode do not feel isolated.

While working remotely, the managers should keep a keen eye on and observe the early signs of an employee feeling isolated. We can try to notice several signs of isolation, such as:

  • Low involvement in social activities
  • Limited participation in informal discussions
  • Less engagement
  • Disinterest in work
  • Lax attitude
Along with these, there can be many other signs that managers can note to understand how their employees feel. Understanding the movements of the problems is the first step toward solving them. Once that is clear, managers can use several ways to reduce the isolation of employees. Being an effective manager in remote mode can require some upskilling.

Methods to avoid isolation of remote workers

Employee well-being programs

Organizations generally have some employee well-being programs in place. Such programs identify the signs and sources if and when an employee feels isolated. In addition, they can take the initial steps to ensure the mental well-being of employees by providing spaces to discuss their concerns.

Opportunities to connect with other remote workers

The panacea to removing isolation is its opposite – socialization. Therefore, managers of remote teams should create ample opportunities for team members to interact. Team building activities are the appropriate tool for this. Such meetings can be conducted online after work hours to handle lack of time or location differences. Moreover, these can become the gateways to developing a healthy culture that keeps employees engaged and interested.

Training of managers

Managers who handle remote or hybrid teams can take training to understand the challenges. This training should give them insights into coping with the unique challenges posed by remote working. In addition, it should enable them to understand better their team’s requirements, which would be beyond those of a team working at a traditional brick-and-mortar office.

Team Projects

Encourage the members to work together. Provide projects that remotely connected teams can handle. This is because working together towards a common goal would help form friendships with other members and cultivate a sense of loyalty toward the organization. The spirit of collaboration can drive away the feeling of isolation.

Leave time for personal life

The feeling of isolation can creep up outside the workspace too! The lines between work hours and personal time get blurry while working from home. As a manager, you should ensure that your employees can maintain a work-life balance that leaves ample time for private life and allows them to give their best at work.

Use co-working spaces

Even though remote working was a haphazard innovation of the pandemic, it has survived beyond it. As restrictions are no longer there, organizations can take up co-working spaces for remote employees to work together. Working together can be a fantastic experience that brings together people and lets them interact freely.

Encourage informal communication

In remote work, it is easy to keep contact limited to professional matters. An employee receiving only formal communication from the other end is set to feel isolated. You can introduce regular interactions across the organization that would make them feel like a valued member of a community at work. For instance, asking a couple of questions about their day can foster a healthy relationship.

Recognition

Working remotely can make one and the other lose the sense of what is happening around them. Employees often feel they have an endless list of tasks to accomplish, and their effort does not receive acknowledgment. Giving recognition to employees can boost their confidence and make them feel valued in the organization. People work better when they are aware of getting noticed. The process of employee recognition can be carried out in many ways. You can find some effective ones listed here.

Onboarding of remote workers

While onboarding employees in the remote mode, a manager should also introduce them to the organization’s culture. Acquainting them with colleagues and existing social groups is essential to their proper induction as team members. Therefore, the onboarding process should not be limited merely to the professional arena but rather introduce them to the company’s culture to make a move easier.

Take care in hybrid work mode

While working in the hybrid model, focus can be entirely captured by the employees working offline. As a result, remote employees are more prone to feel detached and undervalued than others. Therefore, managers should take extra care to keep the remote employees involved in discussions and work events in these scenarios. Managers can go through some tips for effectively organizing meetings in hybrid mode here.

Sensitivity to differences

Employees engaged in remote work come from various backgrounds. As a manager, it is essential to understand cultural, national, or ethnic differences and remain sensitive to these in your dealings with the employees. Being foreign to the organization and its culture, developed in an entirely different context, can also make the employees feel isolated.

Communication

Lastly, and most importantly, the manager should encourage communication of all types within the team to foster a healthy informal culture. Informal communication within the organization is essential in making employees comfortable and connected. Isolation happens in the absence of communication. Hence it is the key to avoiding it. Providing avenues for expression and engagement goes a long way in cultivating loyalty in employees.

Conclusion

The remote working model is increasingly being adopted, especially in the IT and ITES industries. Therefore, managers must take extra steps to ensure the well-being of remote employees as well. This often requires a departure from the usual management tactics conventionally followed. New techniques and learnings are vital to adapting as work and workplaces change in the face of technological and structural advancement.

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