Of the significant changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more positive ones would be the normalization of hybrid and remote work setups. Prior to the health crisis, only 7% of the workforce identified themselves to be working remotely, but that number was projected to rise to 1 in 4 Americans working from home by 2021. This is an exponential change that will forever change many work environments in the long run.

Understandably, managerial teams and human resource officers might have found transitioning to this new setup to be challenging. While the first few weeks and months of the pandemic were a challenge for everyone, the change seemed to pay off for many: nearly two years after the onset of the virus, more and more employees are thriving under the hybrid and remote setups, represented by an increase in labor productivity during the pandemic.

So now that it seems working remotely will become more of a mainstay across different work cultures, how can companies continue to work on their growth and keep their employees motivated despite the distance between team members?

Create a culture of connectedness

Many were skeptical at first about the effectiveness of working from home and the impact it would have on communication. Most office work requires the collaboration of people both on the same team and from different departments. Thankfully, digital platforms have made it so much easier for employees to communicate and remain connected despite not being in the same building.

For companies to successfully create a culture of connectedness in remote and hybrid work setups, they should be able to build a strong foundation for their employees. This means having clear process flows and designated point persons so that everyone knows who to talk to and when. Managers should also encourage open and honest conversations — being able to voice ideas and give constructive criticism can help employees feel like their input is valued. Asking for feedback is also an excellent way to ensure the happiness of your employees.

Another trick to help teams foster communication is by opting to use video chat. 89% of workers say that video chat helps them feel more connected to their teammates. Rather than sticking to purely voice calls, video chats can help individuals get a better read of the mood and nonverbal communication cues that they need to effectively understand and communicate.

Virtual activities together

Aside from being able to talk to each other with ease, it’s also important for your employees to build relationships with one another. While it can be challenging to hold online parties, it’s not impossible at all to better get to know one another virtually. Holding company-wide or branch-wide meetings that are larger can help employees see the faces behind the operations that they take part in. Smaller meetings, like within those in a certain team or department, can help encourage employees to better get to know each other.

Companies can also host a multitude of events, ranging from parties and movie nights, to yoga sessions or online game tournaments. Giving employees opportunities to develop a bond can help them stay motivated and focused on work. Depending on the workplace or industry, some employees might find some activities more enjoyable. Some could also hold Friday games nights, wellness seminars, or language classes. Asking employees themselves could also help you get a better grasp of what appeals to them. 

Show your appreciation

One of the best ways to keep employees engaged in remote setups is by consistently showing that you appreciate their effort. It can be challenging to collaborate and accomplish tasks when far apart — especially with most workers also having to take care of matters at home. Recognizing achievements can help them feel like they’re actually doing something meaningful and that their contributions are important to the company.

Incentives are also another good way to motivate employees. Whether an additional day off, a gift card, an online subscription, or anything that you feel might be relevant to your workplace and team, giving incentives to remote employees can help them focus on their work and keep their eyes (literally) on the prize. They don’t even have to be grand or expensive – often a personal gesture is more important than the value of the gift. Another method of showing support for your remote team could be providing funds for equipment or making the equipment available to help them have a more comfortable home setup. 

Some companies also opt to give care packages to their teams as a show of support and appreciation. Especially with the number of Covid-19 cases still relatively high around the world, there are still individuals who may be affected. Care kits for employees who get sick are also a good option, or perhaps holiday gifts, which can stand as proof that you care about them as people and not just as employees. These kits can include gift certificates, a free coffee, or even prepaid passes to certain places.

A hybrid or completely remote setup provides employees with the freedom to work not just at home, but on the go or in other places where they feel productive. Coworking spaces have grown increasingly popular in recent years — these places give people the opportunity to work in the presence of others while at the same time offering location convenience and all the facilities of a conventional office. The 2022 forecast for coworking spaces is that the number of users will increase to over 1 million people!