Working from home was once an elusive and highly sought-after employee benefit. Concerns about data security and productivity kept many companies from fully embracing the concept until the pandemic. With COVID keeping employees at home, employers had to accept a remote workforce as the new norm. Even with many companies returning to the office, several organizations are remaining permanently remote.

While the work-from-home business model began as a necessity, many businesses realized their remote workforce produced superior results at home than they ever did in the office. Numerous prominent companies announced plans to remain permanently remote or offer the option, including Adobe, Airbnb, Allstate, DropBox, Reddit, and Square.

Teamwork and Camaraderie Challenges

Establishing camaraderie amongst a remote workforce is one of the top challenges of the business model. Employees that knew each other from before the shift to working from home have a foundation to work with, but new hires or companies that have always been remote don’t have that advantage. Teamwork is essential for companies to succeed, as it builds trust and respect between team members. Without these, remote workers quickly become frustrated on group projects and lose efficiency.

How to Foster Teamwork Remotely

Adapting to a 100% remote position can be challenging for employees who are used to engaging with their coworkers face-to-face. Employers and managers must also find ways to manage their teams and employees without physically seeing them. The following are several methods to promote teamwork within a remote workspace:

  • Invest in the right collaboration tools. Employees need to be able to communicate with each other, their teams, and their managers with ease to collaborate effectively. Communication platforms should allow employees to message each other directly and in groups. Preferably, the platform should include permissions to invite new members, such as when a group needs to include a client in the discussion. The option for video chat is also crucial for projects that require detailed explanations or presentations.
  • Provide clear directions. Employees that don’t understand their part in the project lose motivation for their work rapidly. They may not see how their work affects the project or feel incapable of acting upon vague project descriptions. Providing a clear project map for the entire team and establishing team member roles can eliminate confusion and keep employees engaged in the group effort.
  • Offer frequent emotional and social support. Employees that are used to frequent socialization may struggle with remote work more than those who prefer solitary work. However, loneliness can affect even the most engaged employees when working from home. They spend most of their day alone, and prolonged isolation can leave them feeling overlooked or underappreciated. Employees that feel supported by their coworkers and managers make for stronger teams. Some ideas include organizing virtual social activities (e.g., virtual coffee or lunch breaks, happy hours, group yoga, etc.), checking in with employees regularly, and offering emotional and mental health services.
  • Promote a sustainable work-life balance. Burnout is a significant risk among remote employees. Their office is usually within their home, and it can feel like they never clock out of work. Establishing realistic deadlines is crucial. Productivity may improve with a remote workforce, but this doesn’t mean managers should dramatically increase employees’ workloads. Once employees tip over the burnout threshold, their quality of work and productivity will nosedive along with their motivation and morale. Offering flexible scheduling and supporting working parents can help employees manage their work and personal life responsibilities.

Cultivating an engaged, productive workforce is essential for all businesses. However, remote teams pose unique challenges to achieving these goals. Employee benefits provide an excellent opportunity for companies to ensure their employees’ satisfaction and retention. Working from home remains a highly appealing benefit for many job applicants. However, it ceases to feel like a benefit when it becomes the business model. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to discuss cost-effective employee benefits packages that appeal to your employees’ work and life situations.