We saw a huge spike in remote and hybrid work in 2020 as we navigated uncharted territory throughout the pandemic, but where does it stand as we enter 2023? As of the end of 2022, 66% of employees work remotely at least part-time and about 16% of companies are fully remote.
This year we saw many companies start to require employees to report back to the office, but many plan to keep hybrid workstyles for the long term. According to recent data, 76% of Fortune 100 companies still operate on a hybrid work schedule.
Personal and Business Outcomes of Recent Remote Work
It’s safe to say that pre-pandemic, most employees couldn’t imagine working their role from home. About 75% of people had never worked remotely prior to 2020. How quickly perceptions have changed in just a few short years.
Not only are more employees working remotely now, but there have been unexpected positive business outcomes associated with it as well. Recent studies have found that remote workers have reported:
- Higher Productivity Levels – 90% say their productivity levels have increased or stayed the same since working from home.
- Increases in Work-Life Balance – 75% say they have a better work-life balance working from home and 57% report less stress.
- Positive Impacts on Engagement – 62% of employees feel that working remotely positively impacts their engagement levels.
The New Norm: Remote and Hybrid Workstyles
With both employees and employers feeling the benefits of remote work, it is no surprise that the majority of the workforce (68%) wants to work from home, and 81% of employers expect remote teams to become the new norm.
Based on recent data, it looks like if companies want to continue to attract talent, they need to have flexibility around workstyles. More than half of employees who worked remotely during the pandemic said they would either quit or look for a more flexible job if they were no longer able to work from home. Further, 46% would be willing to take a pay cut of up to 5% to be able to work hybrid or remotely.
Challenges of Remote Work
The positive benefits of working from home don’t come without some challenges, so it is important to be aware of them when managing remote employees.
First, the lack of face-to-face interaction with colleagues can become hard and isolating for many employees, especially if they thrive from human connection. Feedback has shown that about two-thirds of remote workers reported feeling lonely and 70% of workers don’t feel like they are able to socialize enough when working remotely.
Also, although many feel that their work-life balance has improved, many also report that they struggle to ‘unplug’ from work when they are at home. About 55% say on average that they work more hours than they did at the office.
Tips for Managing Remote Employees
Invite them into the office – Working remotely can be ideal for many employees but some might still miss coming into the office. If you have some in-person employees, consider inviting remote workers to the office a couple of times a month so that they can get the best of both worlds. This won’t work for everyone since many employees may not live near the main office but for those who do, it could be an easy way to socialize with colleagues without the pressure of returning on a regular basis.
Plan in-person events – Make sure your remote teams have a chance to interact and connect with the whole company through in-person events. Having on-site retreats or events a few times a year is a great way to get everyone together. It may be difficult to plan and organize but it will make a world of difference in company culture. It gives employees a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level and build strong interdepartmental relationships.
Have a strong onboarding process – The onboarding process for remote employees is key to setting the tone for their work with your organization. Use this time to set clear workstyle expectations such as parameters for times they are required to be online, how or if their time will be monitored, and when they will be required to visit the office. Being as clear and detailed as possible through this process will help your people be successful in a remote role. Oftentimes there can be ambiguity around workplace practices or what is the ‘norm’ when employees aren’t physically in the office so try to bring them up to speed so they can adapt easily.
Keep regular check-ins – Having regular check-ins with employees is always helpful regardless of if they are working remotely or not. Encourage supervisors to have a running weekly check-in meeting with their remote employees to touch base and offer support. Since remote workers can’t just walk down the hall and pop into your office to catch up, these standing meetings are critical to their well-being within the organization. You can also encourage remote employees to have weekly or monthly meetings with each other to co-work, debrief on projects they are working on, or just chat to stay connected.
Encourage employees to ‘unplug’ – When working from home, it can be hard to draw the line between work time and home time. Set best practices for your teams around unplugging after work hours. Some employees may prefer to work in the evening or outside of business hours, so encourage them to be mindful of sending emails or requests after hours so that others do not feel obligated to respond immediately. Lastly, honor your employee’s boundaries and try to be an example for them of what a healthy work-life balance looks like.
Whether your whole workforce is remote or you’re just exploring a hybrid option, take the time to understand what works for your team. Managing remote employees and providing them with the support they need can lead to happier and more engaged people, who in turn are loyal and committed to their workplace.