These days, it's quite common for people to work from home, especially in the fields of tech and design. But how does work time away from the office affect employee engagement levels and employee satisfaction? We all make assumptions, but let's take a look at some research.
Apparently, the key is not to go 100% with one or the other; they key is in providing both options in a healthy combination. According to author Rhucha Kulkarni,
Experts opine that there is a strong positive correlation between remote working and positive engagement, but only if it is followed in a balanced manner. The study found that the engagement levels were low (around 30%) for both types of employees i.e. full-time office workers and full-time remote workers. This means that the time spent in the office, and the time spent working remotely must be blended well to suit the workforce needs.
One reason for this is the innate human need for interaction and involvement. Those who work wholly on site may have too much interaction or experience too much social pressure.
On the other hand, virtual workers who are never in-person with their colleagues begin to feel isolated and uninvolved. In both cases, the employee has the potential to lose balance and either become disengaged because they are over-stimulated... or because they are under-stimulated socially. In either case, employee satisfaction levels can potentially suffer.
Additionally, many of today's employees are from a different generation and have different needs and expectations from those of the past. While fitting oneself as a round peg into a square whole used to be expected on the job, now employees expect a bit more room to move around, to be themselves, and to have a better workplace experience than their parents might have had. On this note, Kulkarni shares that,
New generation workers are no longer looking at the employer value proposition from a single lens of remuneration. They are looking for additional benefits like leadership visibility, flexibility, work-life balance, and other intangible areas to help them achieve their professional as well as personal goals.
With boundaries between work and life blurring, employees are placing importance on such benefits that allow them to achieve their full potential. Of course, a completely cut-off remote worker feels the need to connect with colleagues, seniors, and people in general at the workplace—humans are, after all, social creatures and need to feel part of the group. Hence it is important to create the right mix of remote and in-office work.
There are quite a few tools and techniques that come in handy when it comes to maintaining employee engagement both on-site and remotely. It pays to make sure that all employees feel like part of the team. No one wants to feel left out.
Whether virtual, in-office of somewhere in between, it is important that every employee feels connected with the immediate team, function, and department; only then can we expect to bring out the best in people.
As times change, management, work patterns, work locations, and problem solving have to keep up. Right now, working remotely is becoming a norm... increasingly taking up more and more of the workforce.
As new patterns in corporate culture settle out, it's worth taking a look at the research and various perspectives out there so that you can both allow you employees freedom... and make sure that they are engaged and stimulated — no matter where they are doing their work.
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