Remote work has been steadily rising in popularity over the last couple of decades. However, there has been a massive spike in adoption due to the necessity of COVID safe practices. There have certainly been positive takeaways here. Many business leaders have noted how valuable remote operations can be for reducing overheads, improving productivity, and greater employee satisfaction. As such, your business may be among the many seeking to make it a more permanent feature.
This doesn’t mean to say that remote operations are always easy to implement and sustain. It’s important to recognize that your employees will face practical, cultural, and psychological challenges when moving away from the traditional workplace. One of the most helpful tools to maintain connections with workers to understand how they are adapting are remote work pulse surveys.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the subject. Why is it vital to maintain connections with remote workers and how can pulse surveys help?
The Risks of Disconnect
Your remote employees are disconnected physically by distance. This doesn’t mean it’s inevitable that they should feel disengaged with your organization. Nevertheless, it is still often a significant risk.
Part of this comes from the fact that there are multiple potential areas of disruption. Firstly, if your workers are not used to operating without direct supervision, this can represent a gear change that they have to get used to. They may also have to find ways to contend with aspects of their home working environment that are different to those of a traditional office. There can also be a sense of being isolated from their colleagues, which impacts both collaborations and the social aspect of their job satisfaction. Indeed, if leaders and managers fail to keep meaningfully connecting with their remote employees, these workers may feel they are not getting the support they need to thrive.
Unless these and other aspects of disconnect are addressed, there can be consequences for everyone involved. Most prevalent is the potential for engagement to drop, which has a knock-on effect on various areas. Productivity is likely to decline and quality of service can suffer. Not to mention that workers can be less likely to maintain commitment to an organization they don’t feel is making efforts to stay connected to them.
Utilize the Most Appropriate Tools
Addressing the potential disconnect for remote workers is not something that occurs passively. Your business needs to be active in establishing strategies to understand and identify areas of concern so leaders and employees can collaborate on effective solutions. This means finding the most appropriate tools to keep communicating with and supporting your workers.
Key among your considerations here should be frequent remote work pulse surveys. When utilized well, this is a simple and non-disruptive approach to checking in with employees to get their insights into the state of operations. The nature of these surveys means they’re short enough not to represent an unnecessary burden on your workers. At the same time, Workify’s Remote Work Pulse Surveys include question sets that are designed to help your business analyze the psychological, physical, and organizational factors that inform remote workers’ experiences. This empowers you to take action with the most relevant data possible.
You’ll also find that issuing these regular pulse surveys sends a clear message to your workers. It shows that you’re committed to helping your remote workers have the most positive experience. You’re communicating that you understand that remote employees face challenges and you want to find out more so you can provide the most effective resources. This in itself can be a tool for maintaining meaningful connections with remote workers.
Understand Your Objectives
Pulse surveys can certainly be an appropriate tool to keep remote workers connected to the organization. The key is in making certain you’re using them effectively. One of the first considerations in this regard is to establish and understand a clear set of objectives for your pulse survey. This ensures that you’re measuring the most relevant data in the most efficient way possible.
Workify’s research in this area has found that the most valuable objectives are:
- To understand how the transition to remote work is going
It’s important to recognize that it’s not practical to expect employees to be able to make the shift to remote work without hurdles or a certain amount of reconfiguration. A period of transition is necessary to identify problem areas and get used to the new approach to work. As such, one of the most important metrics to measure here is in relation to how workers are finding the transition. Workify Remote Work Pulse Surveys focus on collecting data here on change and expectation management, resource availability, accessibility of tech support, and manager support and communication.
- To establish the key challenges and opportunities for improvement in your remote operations
Remote work methods and environments are likely to be very different to what your employees have been used to in the past. While the roles they play may largely be the same, remote working presents unique challenges, disruptions, and skills requirements. As such, it’s vital to establish what your employees find to be the key challenges and opportunities for improvement. Alongside identifying these elements, Workify Remote Work Pulse Surveys also focus on capturing data on what workers feel are useful resources to address them.
- To understand how people are feeling about the change and the new arrangement
The shift to remote working isn’t just a practical issue. There are clear psychological and emotional components at play that can affect how your staff adapt and thrive. Therefore, one of the objectives of the assessment has to include gaining a greater understanding of how the change is impacting the psychological and emotional state of your workforce. Workify’s Remote Work Pulse Surveys focus on capturing data on general sentiments, employee feelings, and any additional general feedback workers may want to offer.
Ask Effective Questions
With your objectives firmly in place, you can start to build a set of questions that home in on those areas. You don’t have a lot of time or space to make an impact with such surveys, so this helps to make sure everyone is getting the most out of the tool.
Workify has committed investment and research into establishing questions that quickly and succinctly gather measurable and actionable data. These questions are also valuable in empowering workers to make their opinions heard.
Some examples of the effective questions in Workify’s Remote Worker Pulse Surveys include:
Transition to remote work
1. I have the resources I need to perform my job effectively.
2. The tools we use as a team are working for me remotely.
3. I know where to go to get tech support.
Key challenges and Opportunities
1. What challenges are you facing to be successful working from home?
2. Which apps/platforms do you most use in your workflow?
3. What one thing would help you be more effective working remotely?
Employee feelings check-in
1. Choose the word you most identify with since the COVID-19 pandemic began (single choice):
Angry, Anxious, Chaotic, Confused, Creative,
Distracted, Fearful, Frustrated, Happy, Hopeful,
Lonely, Optimistic, Overwhelmed, Peaceful, Sad,
Thankful, None of the above
2. Why did you answer the way you did? (open-ended)
Take Tangible Action
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of Workify’s Remote Work Pulse Surveys is that your company can quickly see exactly where any areas for focus, concern, and improvement are. The objectives and questions within these are not ambiguous, therefore the results tend to be clear. That said, this is only an effective tool if you use the data to take tangible forms of action.
If your remote workers consistently let you know that they are lacking certain resources, it’s vital to do what you can to meet their needs here. In some cases, the results may point to areas that need further research and attention, particularly when it comes to the emotional aspect of remote experiences. Nevertheless, it is essential to commit time, investment, and energy to digging deeper and working with employees to make improvements. This not only tends to result in better remote worker engagement, it also demonstrates that you respect the insights you employees have provided. This in turn can help them feel more connected to the business and willing to offer further suggestions.
There’s no doubt that the shift to remote operations can be challenging. It is vital to address any issues here that could result in your employees becoming disconnected from your company and your culture. Utilizing regular pulse surveys in this area can ensure you gain actionable insights into potentially problematic areas.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can utilize Workify Remote Work Pulse Surveys to better understand how your employees are adjusting to and coping with the change in operations, you can download our PDF or book a free 30 minute employee engagement consultation.