5 Ways to Alleviate Loneliness for Remote Employees

July 13, 2018

How to ensure your whole team feels included

Telecommuting appeals to many employees with busy lives. Study after study shows that remote workers are more productive, more satisfied with work, have greater wellbeing and a better-balanced approach to work and family. For these and other reasons, Global Workforce Analytics reports “regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.”

But are remote workers lonely? Offsite and out of site, there’s a chance that your remote employees feel disconnected from their teams and a little left out.

 

It’s about connection, not connectivity

It is ironic that in a world with so many ways to connect through technology, many people still feel lonely. Organizations use email, teleconferencing, real-time collaboration tools like Slack, texting, and social media to interact. But it turns out that technology only ensures connectivity, not meaningful interpersonal connections.

Nearly half of people feel lonely or left out, according to a study by Cigna about loneliness. Generation Z was revealed to be the loneliest generation in the survey, despite their much greater use of mobile technology and social media.

The truth is that many employees—even those in the office—feel isolated and lonely. But at least in the office, coworkers have random “water cooler” interactions and attend group meetings. How much more alone must remote employees feel?

 

5 ways to help remote employees have meaningful interactions

Here are some strategies organizations and managers can employ to make remote employees feel more included:

  1. Use video chat instead of telephone. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. In fact, studies show that about 70% of communication is non-verbal—conveyed through facial expressions, body posture and other cues. When remote employees only participate in phone calls, they miss all of that extra non-verbal communication. Having some of your one-on-one meetings by video chat will feel more like being in person.
  2. Engage remote and onsite employees in weekly team meetings. It is best practice for managers to check in with team members weekly anyway. By conducting these weekly check ins as a full team meeting, coworkers have a chance to interact with their remote colleagues, sharing ideas, concerns and just generally touching base.
  3. Have offsite, in-person team meetings quarterly. Since there is no substitute for in-person interactions, managers should arrange for teams to meet offsite and include remote employees. These meetings can be informal chances to socialize as a team.
  4. Encourage employees to pursue community. If your remote employees don’t visit the office often, they may need to look closer to home for community. Companies can provide remote employees with the scheduling flexibility to pursue opportunities to volunteer or join interest-based groups. Joining a friend or family member for coffee or lunch can help to alleviate the feelings of isolation. Remote employees can also look for coworking spaces close to home if they prefer the vibe of being in an office with other people.
  5. Always include remote employees in team meetings and decisions. Sometimes it can be tempting for a manager to gather onsite employees for a quick team huddle or a vote on something that impacts the entire team. Never leave out your remote employees—take the time to set up a collaboration with the entire team.

Use the right technology to keep remote employees engaged

Asure Software’s Mobile Workforce Management solutions make it possible for organizations to extend the benefits of remote work to more employees by ensuring they remain connected and productive. Combine the right technology with the tips above to help your remote employees feel included and engaged.