Research shows remote employees want you to check on them regularly

With employees working from home, are managers doing enough to check in on them to see how they’re coping as they work remotely? Our survey reveals an eye-opening truth.

April 27, 2020
Angelique Parungao

Your company might be one of those who have quickly transitioned teams to work from home during the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this new setup, how often have you checked in on individual team members since you shifted to a remote workforce set-up? 

According to a survey we conducted, which polled more than 1,000 dispersed employees in the UK who have never worked from home previously, one in ten said their manager has not checked in on them to see how they are coping since remote working began in March. We also found that 38% of those who surveyed felt their employers need to increase and improve communications with them on a more regular basis—with 14% of them saying that they need more specific feedback to help them feel more productive while working from home. 

Checking in regularly with remote employees is crucial

Needless to say, the ongoing evolution of the pandemic  can trigger unpleasant emotions for employees: amping up anxiety about both their health and their job. Business psychologist and wellness coach, Jivan Dempsey confirms that “Employees are naturally worried about themselves, their families and their futures.” Because of that, employers must communicate more regularly with their employees. “Leaders must step up to the plate and respond with empathy and understanding. Communication that is personable and strives to be open and honest is more engaging, effective and more likely to rebuild trust,” she said. 

On top of their concerns on the current situation, it’s also probable that they may feel lonely while working remotely. According to Cigna, remote workers are more likely to feel alone as compared to their non-remote, and without an excellent communication system with their employers, dispersed employees are more likely to suffer loneliness in silence. 

According to Occupational Psychologist, Dr Nancy Doyle, “Companies worked hard in the early days to check-in on their staff, as well as cut people some slack when they needed to adjust their working hours to manage their home responsibilities, extend deadlines or ask for more support. But as time moves on, it can feel difficult, almost intrusive, to keep saying ‘how are you doing?” She added, “This means that some people may be suffering in silence as they work remotely. Your colleagues are the same people that they were before the lockdown and, if you notice a drastic change in personality or in how they are delivering their work, then there may be more going on for them now than is immediately obvious.”

Maintaining human touch remotely 

If you plan to start reaching out to your remote employees or want to improve the way you do it, Dempsey suggests using video calls when checking in with them. “Use the camera so that you can see and be seen in all communication. Video conferencing can help build connection and trust, especially with remote staff.” Aside from video calls, you can also utilize voice calls for your check ins. Some employees might not be comfortable to have video calls so often, so leaving an option without the video might work for them. 

It is also important to maintain a regular schedule. According to those we surveyed, 30% said that their managers will check in with them once a week—purely from a wellness perspective. Make sure you provide enough time during your one-on-one, as well as team calls, so everyone can discuss what they need to voice out to you or their colleagues. 

You can also schedule virtual activities with your teams to take their mind off work. Team building sessions through video calls can help strengthen your employees’ camaraderie even when they are working remotely. You can also encourage them to reach out to one another—by starting their employee-driven discussion hubs or chatting with their colleagues as they take a break from work. 

As you do all these things for your remote team, it’s also crucial you don’t forget to look after yourself. “Keep an eye on your own mental health and wellbeing too—you cannot pour from an empty cup!” said Dr Doyle. “Taking everything on yourself will leave you exhausted and empty.” 

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