How to Create a Positive Employee Experience for Remote Workers

David Hehenberger December 7, 2021

Building and maintaining a positive employee experience is crucial for any business with a remote workforce.

Working remotely can have huge benefits, both for the employee and employer. However, remote work can also be difficult for employees to adapt to, and hurt job satisfaction if not managed correctly.

If team members don’t feel fulfilled, motivated and happy in their job, their performance will struggle and they’re likely to want to leave before long.

It’s therefore vital to the business’ long term success that this become a focus point.

Read on and we’ll share what goes in to an employee experience, and how companies can optimize for a positive remote worker employee experience.

Learn More: The Greatest Challenges of Working Remotely

What Contributes to Employee Experience?

Employee experience is a bit of a loaded term. What does it mean exactly?

The definition can be equal parts straightforward and complex. It’s straightforward in that you can say it simply means the journey someone takes as a remote employee, from start to finish, and their experiences and interactions in between.

However, there are many small factors that contribute to this, which is where defining the employee experience becomes more vague and complex.

Here are some things to think about when on the topic of employee experience.

Social Connection

As human beings, we need meaningful social interaction with others in order to thrive.

The amount and quality of social interaction we get at work goes a long way to defining our working experience. To ensure positive employee experiences, first focus on getting the social element right.

Engagement

Engagement refers to the level of enthusiasm and dedication with which people approach their work. 

Engaged team members tend to take more pride in their work and care about how their performance affects the outcome of their greater team or the company as a whole. 

They’re more likely to leave work or log out every day thinking that their job actually matters, and be excited to start work the next day.

Optimism 

It’s also important to develop a culture of optimism in the workplace. Workers should feel positive about the direction both they and the company are headed.

The worst kind of employee experience comes when a person shows up to work everyday to be met with red arrows and other negative signals about the future.

Workers should be optimistic about both the business as a whole, and their own prospects. It’s no good for the business to be on an upswing if someone constantly feels their own work is going to go poorly.

Engagement plays a part in creating a positive, optimistic culture for employees – people who are more engaged at work are generally more optimistic about how they are able to contribute to the company’s success.

Sense of Belonging

Since the start of humanity, we’ve had an inherent need to feel like we’re part of something.

We don’t really have tribes anymore – the closest thing is our workplace.

Employees want to feel like they belong to a close-knit team. When one person accomplishes something, the whole team benefits, and it spurs everyone on to push harder and achieve more.

This sense of belonging is often missing with a negative employee experience. Workers feel they’re just “doing time”, waiting out the clock until their shift is over, and every effort takes to much more to push through and accomplish.

Work/Life Balance

One of the big factors that contribute to employee experience is balancing time between work and other vital aspects of their life like family, friends, leisure, wellness, etc. 

You’re likely to look on your job in a negative light if it takes up all your time, and doesn’t leave you the chance to have a fulfilling personal life.

Working hours, vacation time and flexibility with schedule and workplace are all things that contribute to a positive work/life balance, and thus a positive employee experience as well.

Further Reading: why Employee Burnout is such a big problem with remote teams, and how to address and prevent cases of burnout.

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Why is Employee Experience Important?

Is it really that important that workers have a positive employee experience?

Many employers believe that issues at work can be solved by throwing money at the problem (in terms of higher salary), or hiring different people, when in reality, it’s about fixing issues related to the experience of their team.

The company benefits in a range of ways from a positive employee experience, including a higher standard of work, and lower chance of problems arising in the future.

Here are some reasons you should care about your team’s experience in the workplace.

Higher Quality of Work 

If people feel good, they’ll perform better. It makes sense that if someone feels engaged, optimistic, and have a sense of belonging, they’re more likely to feel pride in their work, and they’ll put more effort in.

Contrast that to an employee who doesn’t connect with their colleagues, is apathetic to where the business is headed, and is primarily interested in clocking an adequate number of hours. 

They might still get the job done, but disengaged employees like that won’t go above and beyond for their teammates and knock it out of the park with their performance. 

More Productive Employees

It’s not just the quality of work that will improve, but also how much gets done in a day. 

When employees aren’t happy, it creates mental distractions that affect their focus at work. 

Without these distractions, workers can focus easier on what needs to be done, and keep productivity levels up where you want them.

Better Workplace Culture

Good morale in the workplace has a positive domino effect on everyone else around. If the entire team is engaged and optimistic about the future, they will have an aura of confidence and positive energy about them.

It will create a positive vibe within the team and a fun environment for everyone to work in. 

In contrast, when people have a poor experience at work, it grows like a virus throughout the whole team, even if it begins from an issue with just a single person.

Decreased Turnover

A poor experience at work invariably leads to turnover. People feel unhappy or unfulfilled at work, and eventually they’re going to leave the job.

This is a problem for employers, as it’s not cheap to hire and train new staff. It’s also hard to build a close-knit, settled team environment when people are constantly coming and going.

A high turnover rate can often be a clear sign that work has to be done on employee engagement and the working experience.

Further Reading: 7 reasons why vacations are important – especially for remote teams.

How to Create a Positive Employee Experience for Remote Workers

We’ve established how peoples’ experience at work is vital for their productivity, quality of work, and more.

For remote workers, this is just as important. It’s also more difficult to get right.

Remote workers are likely to have bigger problems connecting socially with their co-workers. It’s also common for people to feel less engaged or lack motivation when working remotely.

So, while all businesses should focus on creating the best employee experience possible, it’s a bigger task for remote teams to build and maintain a great remote working experience.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Here are some things to do to make the remote work experience as good as it can be.

Help the Employee Create the Ideal Workspace

A big struggle in adapting to remote work is setting up a comfortable, efficient and practical workspace.

The remote environment lends itself to a lot of poor choices in terms of workspace, such as working from the sofa or other areas that are not ergonomically efficient, and not adequately separated from personal areas at home.

The problem is, many remote workers don’t have a ready-made workspace at home that they can smoothly slot into.

Remote businesses, or hybrid workplaces with some remote staff, should be ready to invest in helping their workers build and optimize their remote workspace.

When remote employees have a good space in which to work from, there are fewer irritations that eat into their experience with remote work. They’re also likely to have an easier time separating work areas from personal areas, which helps create an effective work/life balance.

Opportunities for Career Advancement

All employees, remote or in-person, want to feel they have the opportunity to move up and advance in their careers.

Imagine telling someone this is as good as it gets, and they’re realistically never going to grow to take on more responsibility and, more importantly, earn more.

This again can be somewhat harder to do with a remote work environment, as employees often feel more like independent contractors than pieces on the corporate ladder.

It’s a good idea for these businesses to ensure there’s a clear hierarchy in place, and that staff can move up the ladder when they show merit.

This will help keep your remote workforce engaged and optimistic, which are two vital components of the employee experience.

Encourage Time Off From Work

Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean they don’t need time off. 

Remote working does allow people more time around their family, or to do things in their own time where otherwise they might be stuck in a commute.

However, remote employees still need to take time away from work completely, to refresh and avoid burnout.

Remote workers are, however, less likely to take the time off they need. They’ll often feel like they don’t need to take a day off, or they may feel that the company will look on them in a negative light if they do ask for time off.

Companies really need to ensure employees get an adequate break from work. Otherwise, you’re going to run into performance issues and rising turnover before too long.

Managers and HR professionals should regularly check for staff who haven’t taken a break in a long time, and push these people to schedule some time off.

Outside of this, make sure the culture at the company is one where employees are not afraid of asking to take their time off, so employees feel comfortable stepping away to aid their well being.

Regular Recognition and Feedback 

The biggest struggle in maintaining a positive remote employee experience is the distance employees feel between themselves and the company.

This makes it easy to feel separated and disengaged, at which point the experience for remote workers starts to suffer greatly.

Regular check-ins are important, to help remote working staff feel valued. Managers should also be more mindful of voicing recognition over small thing that employees do well.

Flexible Work Schedule 

People want to work from home because it gives them greater control over their schedule and lifestyle. 

Flexible schedules empower employees, and let them craft their day the way they like it.

Many employees work best in different times of the day. Giving them the freedom to choose these times can help their happiness as well as productivity.

There may be certain times that employees are needed to be (virtually) present, such as for meetings or collaboration sessions. But if it’s not necessary, consider extending the freedom to individuals to break free from the chains of 9-5.

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Final Thoughts on Remote Employee Experience 

Many companies think that paying their staff a salary or wage is where their responsibilities end.

These organizations, however, are those that find themselves with constant issues with productivity, performance, and turnover.

When employees are happy and fulfilled in their work, they’re not just going to stay in the job longer, they’ll invariably perform better as well.

Remote work requires special attention to the employee experience, as the physical distance makes it harder for employees to remain productive, engaged, and to maintain necessary social connections.

To craft the best possible remote employee experience, look at the common reasons people struggle with remote work, and address them. Help your team create an effective workspace at home, and do all you can to help them stay engaged and excited about work.

Companies that make this a focus are those that will succeed in today’s work environment.

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