January 15, 2022 by Andrea Rajic

Workplace Experience for a Distributed Workforce

Workplace Experience for a Distributed Workforce

These days, HR and People Ops have a lot on their mind, regardless of the industry they operate. For instance, even when their employees work from various locations, companies need to put a lot of effort into creating an effective and sustainable workplace strategy to ensure positive outcomes.

Most companies experiencing growth have adopted an employee-first approach, making sure their employees enjoy being part of their organization. According to the Social Market Foundation's research, happy employees are 20% more productive.

So, what does it take for a company with a remote team to ensure employee satisfaction, and how do you provide a positive workplace experience in distributed teams? Let's find out.

What Is Workplace Experience?

Although its name suggests, workplace experience refers not only to physical space. It is, in fact, a blend of various elements ensuring higher workplace engagement and employee satisfaction, leading to better business outcomes and lower real-estate costs.

As an approach, workplace experience, or WX, examines how components such as space, technology, operations, and culture, put together, affect employee productivity. That's why the success of WX depends on continuous collaboration between HR (including People Ops), IT and Facilities teams.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has sped up the transition towards a hybrid work model. Even though distributed teams and remote workforce are not a novelty, more and more companies opt for such employment arrangements because of the possibilities they offer.

It can be challenging for companies running remote or distributed teams to find a winning formula for providing exceptional workplace experience, but it's not impossible. However, it requires a serious approach and the same level of dedication to each WX component.

Workplace Experience Key Components

In traditional settings, workplace management revolves around physical space and all the aspects, making it an office, such as furniture, equipment, and seat arrangements.

However, in the world of remote work, workplace management has a slightly different role. It focuses on the overall employee experience.

So how does workplace experience for a remote workforce fit into this equation? Simply put, a workplace experience manager works on improving remote employee engagement by focusing on three key components:

  • Space
  • Technology
  • Culture

Employee Productivity Depends on Adequate Workspace

The global pandemic caught companies unprepared for operating in such conditions. As a result, entire teams moved to work remotely, with employees adjusting their private spaces, creating home offices more or less suitable to get the job done.

Remote work created new challenges, mostly related to higher expenses employees needed to handle. However, as companies realized remote work is here to stay, they looked for ways to help team members overcome those challenges by providing proper support.

One practice proven highly effective is offering a work-from-home stipend. Employees receive a small sum of money as a monthly allowance or a one-time payment. With this type of financial support, companies ensure every team member has what's necessary to stay on top of their tasks.

Depending on the company's expense policy, employees can use the stipend to purchase desks, chairs, and equipment, including monitors and/or laptops. In addition, they can use it to pay phone and internet bills or cover any other work-related expense.

As we all know, remote work is not strictly a work from home. Some people are more productive in more office-like environments, so a remote work stipend should enable them to book a desk in a coworking space most suitable for their needs.

Important note: Whether an employer is required to reimburse for remote workers' work-related costs depends on the labor law in force in a particular country. So, in most cases, it's still not mandatory, but it is worth considering due to the positive effect on employee experience.

Remote Workforce and Distributed Teams Rely on Company's Tech Stack

Remote work as we know it today would not be possible without technology. The development and rise of different solutions have enabled seamless workflow and communication between team members, allowing them to stay updated with everything work-related.

The lack of adequate tools, on the other hand, causes project delays, increases employee dissatisfaction, and harms the overall work experience.

Although the list of tools in use differs between companies, depending on the workforce size and needs, the most commonly used across various industries are:

  • Slack is one of the most popular communication platforms among remote teams all across the globe. The great thing about Slack is that you can integrate it with Dropbox, Adobe Creative Cloud, and G-Suite. In addition, it's easy to use and available on desktop computers and mobile phones. So, it is understandable why we can't imagine professional communications unless it's via Slack; thanks to it, we can stay connected to our teammates wherever they are.
  • Zoom: When someone says video conferencing, what's the first thing that comes to your mind? Is it Zoom? Although it offers a messaging option, this tool is used for video calling. In addition, users can opt between a free and pro plan. The first one allows you to organize up to 40 minutes long video calls for free. The second comes with various features, such as webinar hosting.
  • Asana was first launched in 2008, but it's still pretty popular. Its task-oriented interface makes it an ideal option for remote work management. In addition, using Asana ensures everyone is up to date with every project stage, preventing miscommunication between team members.
  • Basecamp helps users stay organized and delegate tasks by priority. Its straightforward interface and features, such as to-do lists and calendaring, prevent any assignment from being overlooked. Basecamp can also be used as a real-time communication channel. Members can access group chats and messaging boards from their computers or smartphones.
  • Dropbox is an online library created to help users manage various digital formats, such as documents, music, photos, and videos. As a cloud-based file hosting system, Dropbox enables users to have their data in one place while also making it accessible to whoever they want. In addition, users can access it from their computers, tablets, or smartphones.

A Healthy Company Culture is the Alpha and Omega of Every Organization

The last and probably the most significant component of workplace experience is culture. Considering the remote workforce and distributed teams work from different locations, it is of the utmost importance for a company to develop a bond between its members.

Technology plays a crucial role in this part, too. However, it is on HR, especially People Ops, to work on a culture that will ensure your company is the place to be.

Here's what you can do to create a company culture your employees could resonate with:

  1. Nurture open communication

It can be challenging for remote employees to share their thoughts and feelings regarding their company because no one wants to jeopardize their position. However, it's time to eradicate those fears.

Encourage your employees to be open and communicate freely with each other and their managers. Ask them if they understand and resonate with your vision and mission. Clarify that it is in everyone's best interest to share ideas and doubts.

Remember, every feedback is valuable, especially in remote and distributed teams where employees don't share the same physical space. Open communication is the foundation of prosperous professional relationships and a prerequisite for team growth.

  1. Celebrate Accomplishments

Use every possibility to congratulate your team members on their excellent work. It can be a regular part of online meetings. For instance, once the session starts, mention what you have done in the previous period, and name those whose contribution was the most significant.

People love to work where they feel valued, and experienced HR knows that. In the 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey, 80% of the HR leaders surveyed reported that their organizations have an employee recognition program.

Also, why stop on professional accomplishments? Show interest in your employees' private life; it doesn't mean you are sticking your nose in someone's intimacy. On the contrary, it proves you are genuinely interested in your team's well-being.

  1. Organize Informal Virtual Gatherings

We all have that one colleague we like to go on a lunch break with and even hang out outside the work. However, when you work in a remote or distributed team, it's hard, almost impossible, to develop that kind of connection.

But, there are options to help employees get to know each other better, even if they are not in the same location. For example, organize virtual lunch breaks, game nights, and team buildings. These are all great ways for employees to develop a sense of belonging.

Written By

Andrea Rajic

© 2022 Gable