How to Create Better Employee Experiences While Working Remotely

Published March 14 2022
Back to insights

Many organizations faced the change-based challenge of transitioning to remote work within the past two years. Further complicating remote work were high levels of resignations coupled with issues of high turnover and job retention that many employers faced in the last couple of years. Organizations had to learn how to cover unfilled positions or train and engage brand-new team members.

Some challenges that may have impacted employee retention that may not have occurred to you include:
  • Misunderstanding mandates by immediate supervisors
  • Maintaining optimism
  • Operational efficiency
  • Facilitating remote workshops
  • Team member turnover
  • Adapting to work on several projects at the same time or new methods of collaboration
  • Onboarding new colleagues and building team spirit while working remotely
  • Zoom fatigue and the loss of eye contact and non-verbal reactions in Zoom or Teams meetings
  • Anxiety and uncertainty about returning to in-person work
  • Proximity to the office when hybrid work policies are implemented

It’s important to make work meaningful again and look for the positive when it comes to both in person and remote work. Find ways to add the social aspect of work back even when there is no water cooler to gather around.

Guiding and supporting decentralized teams and remote work takes time, it can be difficult to inspire real commitment due to a required amount of trust, and mutual understanding, but with this comes an enormous potential of creativity. Some tips:

  • Manage by outcomes – show trust and kindness in adversity
  • Create a feedback mechanism that encourages two-way communication
  • Listen actively to anyone you talk to – especially when meeting on virtual mode.
  • Provide frequent recognition and work to keep members engaged and part of the team.

It’s important to brainstorm with employees, and ask “what are we missing”? As teams return to the office or hybrid work environments, be intentional and make sure people look forward to coming into the office. Build trust and comradery by designing meaningful moments around truths and real-life experiences. Incentivize and reward with opportunities for socialization such as waffle bars or “wine down Wednesday” happy hour.

Member commitment can be more difficult when teams are virtual, decentralized, or there is a combination of remote/hybrid work, so we need to put more effort into guiding and supporting leaders and stakeholders (employees, clients, business partners) to help retain employees and better define work, partnerships, or products/services.

A trend we see this year is the democratization of leadership: any employee, no matter where they land on the hierarchy, can be a leader. This is being driven in part by remote work, but also agility-related matters, changing business culture, societal or generational pressures, and more. Encourage leadership amongst your employees and you may be surprised at what they step up and accomplish!

Change Management has changed over time

In 2000, it was project-oriented, and was defined by: product delivery & operations: methods, tools, processes, and technology.

In 2010, it became people-oriented, and was defined by: addressing concerns of key players, accompanying, and mobilizing key players; it was a more participative and collaborative process. In this period, we aimed at managing the concerns of the actors, to accompany them throughout the change; focusing on raising awareness, mobilizing actors at all levels to act as champions or agents of change.

Today, change management is all about experiences, and is defined by: “Co-,” the collective takes on greater meaning: co-start, co-develop, co-create, etc. In today's ever-changing environments, the focus is split between the individual and collective experience. We aim to co-create change by involving the people concerned from the beginning. Not only ensuring their buy-in but creating value from the positive experiences of people and their relationships. We focus on ecosystems, design, and delivery cycles.

Most common catalysts for change

For modern operations, the most common triggers of change are:

  1. Global presence: intensifying/expanding market presence and globalized approach to leadership, innovation, talent distribution, skills, and best practices
  2. Client-first culture: understanding client needs and providing information, experiences, or improved results (integrated solutions) rather than simple products or services
  3. Agility: accelerating processes or simplifying how work is done to become more agile on a strategic, operational, and cultural level
  4. Innovation: incorporating ideas and approaches from new internal and external sources that give an organization more options to take advantage of new opportunities
  5. Sustainability: becoming more environmentally and socially responsible in terms of approach and action

Common Obstacles (Blind Spots) to change management

  • Ignoring the purpose/ultimate goal of the change or not concentrating on a value that is actually worth pursuing
  • Falling prey to “bright shiny object” syndrome, which delays progress toward your goal
  • Concentrating on too many initiatives at once
  • Overestimating (vs. Underestimating) leadership capacities in a given field. Leadership is an essential element of transformation

It’s important to have truly engaged and proactive change leaders at your organization when designing change.

Did you know that Alithya has a Transformation and Organizational Change practice? The mission of the practice is to prepare, support and equip people and organizations to boost their agility so they can adapt more effectively and efficiently to the transformations they face every day. Check out our offerings or contact us to learn more.