How the right communication engages remote employees

By Lottie Bazley, senior strategic internal communications adviser at Staffbase.

According to the latest Flexible Working Index, employees want more say in their working hours. In addition, companies are advertising an increased number of fully remote roles, which suggests that the supply of flexible jobs is catching up with demand.

With ongoing childcare costs rising, there’s also an increase in demand for roles which accommodate those who have caring responsibilities. However, with rising energy bills and petrol prices, employees are considering just how much it will cost them to work from home versus going into the office. Many workers are likely to return to the office this winter to keep the energy costs down at home.

With this in mind, how can organisations use technology to empower hybrid and deskless workers, keeping them happy and maximising their potential? Effective communication is critical to bridging the communications gap between management and their teams, but many organisations fail to tailor internal comms strategies accordingly. This disconnect can have a damaging impact on the employee experience.

The challenges of a deskless and hybrid workforce

Although employees choosing different combinations of being in the office, working from home, and working from somewhere else altogether, is not a new concept, it often causes a lack of unified information sharing and communications. Important messages get lost in translation, inboxes are filled with unread emails, Slack notifications pile up, outdated technology is still being used and simple processes like putting in annual leave can become a chore.

As a result, employees can feel disengaged and forgotten by senior management. So how do organisations empower employees and ensure their happiness in the workplace?

The solution: Tailoring communications to reach the right internal audience

There’s no one size fits all approach to communication. Internal comms need to be tailored to different audiences. Information about support, benefits and policies needs to be mindful, informative and sensitive to the needs of the workforce. Tailored methods for hybrid and deskless workers should be used to circulate this information.

HR teams and comms practitioners should make use of a variety of digital channels, including an employee communication management solution. This could take the form of an intranet for employees in administration; creating an employee app for frontline workers who cannot be easily reached via email; deploying digital signage in production halls for factory workers; or a communication channel in Microsoft Teams for project managers.

Given more people want flexibility when it comes to their work, which could mean that fewer people are in the same place, internal communicators (ICs) can use technology to create a sense of community and boost the employee experience.

For example, creating channels on internal platforms to connect people with shared interests and address challenges. These channels can also be used to recognise and reward hard work, making employees feel valued and appreciated even when they are not in the office.

However, technology is not the be-all and end-all and organisations should strive to strike the right balance between humans and technology. A good way to ensure this balance is regular one-on-one employee and line manager meetings.

Additionally, employee surveys are integral to determining how employees are feeling about their jobs. Surveys enable HR to quantify problems, identify causes and take actionable steps to solve these. This in turn empowers teams to make informed, data-driven decisions about solutions, such as a new benefits package or new financial wellbeing policies.

Fostering a supportive environment will not only keep workers engaged, but will also keep them happy and maximise their potential.

The role of leaders

In addition, the C-suite should be visible and approachable, not shying away from difficult conversations. They should encourage dialogue so that employees feel supported and heard. This could take the form of monthly town hall meetings, where employees submit questions to be discussed.

Internal communicators should advise leaders on the right tone for effective employee communication. Then, ICs can ensure that messaging is relevant and delivered with empathy.

These methods will enable people to work flexibly, securely and productively, whatever their combination of being in the office at home, in the field, or elsewhere.

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