Trust is vital to the future of all things in work from home 

The concept of trust will emerge as a fundamental success factor in a post-COVID-19 world (whenever that is), when it comes to remote workforces. “Those businesses that share a mutual trust between employees and management will be more successful moving forward, notes Julie Develin, HCM Strategic Advisor at the Ultimate Kronos Group. 

According to the Workforce Institute at Ultimate Kronos Group, more than half of 4,000 employees surveyed say that trust directly impacts issues such as their sense of belonging at work, their career choices and their mental health. However, there is a hurdle to overcome because 55 percent of business leaders and employees think it is easier to trust colleagues in a physical office environment, Develin writes. “There is some work to be done when it comes to the remote workforce.”

Prioritize communications with each individual to foster success 

While working from home is embraced by some as the perfect workplace solution, for others, the option to work from home is riddled with anxiety, where productivity suffers, and employees feel like they are on an island of one.

“During the pandemic, for the most part, employees required a bit more help and guidance with prioritization than in the past,” says LeAnne Legasse, co-founder ROI Talent Development LLC. She believes it is because employees lack the social and relational touchpoints at home that they would have in the workplace when it comes to picking up on nonverbal clues or to know what is needed for team members on a project. 

One solution to this challenge is to provide consistent daily feedback, be it a quick call to touch base as to the work plan for the day or a preview of the plan for the next day. “I think what a really great manger is going to do is individualize to each team member and create some standard rhythms or processes that work for the entire team. Ask employees their preferences; how often would you like me checking in with you?”

People, and teams for that matter, will continue to have evolving needs. “As a leader, when I have one team member depart, or add a new team member, I have a completely new organism, so to speak, that I am working with, so I have to keep curious so that I am meeting the needs as they are evolving.” — LeAnne Legasse, co-founder, ROI Talent Development LLC

While communication and collaboration tools are key during disruptions, not just any methods work. The right tools promote ease of use, are reliable and are widely accepted.

Connected and engaged team members produce and thrive in remote work environments. Here’s how to keep them that way. 

Carrying out a successful work from home strategy is a big and challenging task for corporations, even with plenty of technological tools in place to support the effort. The key is to focus on the wellbeing of employees to ensure productivity and engagement levels remain high.

Highlights

  • The ongoing pandemic continues to demonstrate remote work solutions are here for the long term. In fact, employees prefer some form of work from home options. Employers should plan for the evolution of their remote work offerings once public health restrictions ease and we return to some forms of normalcy in the workplace.
  • The social and relational needs of remotely based employees should be front and center to counter feelings of isolation and lack of connection. Additionally, managers should stay curious and ask questions as well as remain flexible in these uncertain times. 
  • Employee expectations are shifting and companies should address the shifts. Proper training in how to manage remote workers, including access to innovative technological tools that foster flexibility are critical to strategies. 

If 2020 taught us anything about the remote workforce and working from home, it’s that a company’s intentions to develop a set of best practices gave way to its ability to be flexible and adapt to lessons learned as the year played out. 

What began with high levels of productivity and satisfied employees adjusting to work from home situations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic slowly gave way to declining productivity levels and employees who were feeling burnout, isolation and a lack of connection with their managers and team members.

In October 2020, a Gallup poll found during the pandemic that fully remote workers experienced burnout more than onsite workers. At that time, nearly 40 percent of U.S. full-time employees were working from home full time, compared to just 4 percent pre-COVID-19. However, for many of these employees, remote work was not a choice, and was in fact a “jarring shift” in the way they were used to working, “and may be the biggest shift of the modern era,” Gallup reports. 

However, in visiting with HR executives from a variety of industries, workplace experts have ascertained that the expanded remote work option will not shrink to pre-COVID 19 levels. Corporations, managers and employees must adapt to this shift. Another Gallup survey from October 2020 reported that two-thirds of U.S. workers who were sent home during the pandemic would like to continue working remotely even when public health restrictions are lifted. 

Employers need to rethink the employee experience, which includes meeting the needs of a diverse and global workforce, while simultaneously achieving corporate goals, says LeAnne Legasse, co-founder, ROI Talent Development LLC, based in Lubbock, Texas. These strategies will take on different forms, depending on the needs of each organization.

Common threads include the ability of managers to remain flexible when it comes to deadlines, schedules and other areas, which creates smoother and seamless remote work experiences. Companies are rolling out hybrid remote work options to counter feelings of isolation and to encourage employee engagement. Employees have the option to work from home on certain days of the week and then work in the office the remaining days.

Informal surveys demonstrate employees prefer a hybrid remote work option, writes Julie Develin, HCM Strategic Advisor at the Ultimate Kronos Group, in an email correspondence. She is based in Baltimore. 

“Balancing work and life simultaneously has become another type of new normal for many people, and the freedom to make appointments, work their way, and watch their kids is not something that many will let go of easily once offices reopen,” Develin notes.

Focus turns to the wellbeing of each employ

Frequent, supportive and inspiring communication from managers to remote-based staff assists in keeping them engaged and minimizes burnout and turnover. Not micromanagers, but rather flexible, creative, inspirational and collaborative mangers.

This includes addressing the social and relational needs of team members. “The best managers are those that are staying curious and realizing that what worked in March [2020] when this was all brand new to us may not work in January 2021,” Legasse says. She believes managers should continue with good perspective taking and audience analysis and ask questions of team members so they can meet their needs without overwhelming them.

Employees who receive consistent feedback from their managers, while at the same time being able to tap into technology and resources that allow them to effectively do their jobs remotely are tied to feelings of connection and engagement. 

“I think team leaders that have done this well have balanced the social and relational needs of their employees with the feedback and the help with prioritization that we know our employees have to have to feel engaged,” Legasse says. 

People, and teams for that matter, will continue to have evolving needs. “As a leader, when I have one team member depart, or add a new team member, I have a completely new organism, so to speak, that I am working with, Legasse adds. “I have to keep curious so that I am meeting the needs as they are evolving.”

What’s more, executives should not overlook the needs and support team leaders require as they navigate the ever-changing remote work landscape. During the pandemic, mid-level managers have taken the brunt of the lack of communication that can occur, usually from those employees who are above them, but also from those they manage, Legasse points out. Companies should double down on taking care of these managers because data shows they are struggling the most.  

Technology influences employee engagement and productivity levels

Managers who have been given the training, tools and technology to lead virtual teams have witnessed greater success when it comes to productivity and keeping team members engaged, Develin notes. And while communication and collaboration tools are key during disruptions, not just any methods work, she points out. The right tools promote ease of use, are reliable and are widely accepted.

For example, companies with effective HR technology solutions in place prior to the pandemic found they were better suited to weather the disruption compared to those without such solutions. Companies without existing tools in place quickly learned that technology solutions are no longer a luxury but rather are a necessity, Develin notes.

RemoteLogix, a product of Currance, is an example of such solutions. Currance offers rev-cycle solutions for healthcare organizations. Through a proprietary technology platform, RemoteLogix software delivers a virtual infrastructure that connects work-from-home team members with each other and systems and applications. Managers have full visibility in a secure HIPAA/HITECH-compliant environment.

These types of remote work tools provided companies and managers with a leg up during the rush to send the majority of team members home over those who did not have these tools in place because they were accustomed to managing remote-based teams. These organizations had existing policies, systems, technologies and expectations in place, which made the transition less painless, Develin notes. “Employee expectations are shifting and companies will also need to shift to meet those expectations. From a safety and security perspective, there must be a renewed focus both from a physical and psychological standpoint. Innovative technology is no longer something that employees hope companies have — it is what they expect companies to have.”

Legasse advocates for executive leadership teams to make decisions that are both data driven and people centric when it comes to work from home options. 

“One thing is certain: Work must — and will — go on,” Develin notes. “Resilience is the norm in a time of great change and new challenges arising every day.”

About Currance

Formed by revenue cycle industry leaders, Currance is a Rev-Cycle Performance solutions company focused on empowering community providers, physician practices and healthcare systems to achieve and sustain yield performance improvement. Currance’s strategy of Performance Partnering supports your own team by offering everything needed to drive yield performance: an intelligent technology platform that integrates with existing systems, tailored solutions, and professional services for operationalizing the technology and sustaining exceptional results.

The Currance approach encompasses best-in-class knowledge of revenue cycle management, proprietary technologies, and the proven ability to engage, train, and mentor employees, adding value to clients’ organizations. We embrace a mindset rooted in science and operational experience, enabling highly efficient processes and precise workflow design that improve profitability and help build patient-centered, high-performing organizations. For complete details, visit www.currance.com.