The coronavirus is leading many companies in the United States to encourage their employees to work from home. Working remotely isn’t for everyone, but many will find that it increases productivity, enables a better work/life balance and helps them to avoid the dreaded daily commute. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2018 26 million U.S. workers now work remotely at least part of the time. While many miles may separate them from their onsite colleagues, a new APCO Insight survey of U.S. employees shows that remote workers are not so different from their in-office counterparts.
In our survey, a majority of U.S. employees report being generally happy about their career (85%), with remote employees’ feelings of happiness being no different from those of their office colleagues. Further, remote workers express strong confidence in the future of their career (79%)—similar to their colleagues who work everyday in the office (80%).
But, the research shows that the physical distance potentially puts a strain on remote workers’ connection to the workplace and their work. Remote workers are less likely to feel passion and excitement about their career compared to those in the office every day. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” appears to be a true concern among remote employees. This cohort gives their employers weaker scores for recognizing achievement, ensuring job security and ensuring job satisfaction compared to those working onsite. Generally, the lack of day-to-day visibility and interaction leads these remote workers to feel lonely and unsupported.
How can companies overcome this distance to ensure its remote employees are just as engaged, connected and motivated as their in-office colleagues? Regular check-ins, the use of video conferencing, connecting an employer’s remote workforce and simply making time for “water cooler talk” are ways to help remote workers feel better integrated into the company. These strategies will help ensure that this highly productive segment of a company’s workforce stays at the company for the long-term.