A Guide To Reducing Friction Between Remote And Onsite Employees In 2022
It is true that constant struggles due to the COVID-19 outbreak have made global organizations realize the importance of operating virtually through digital platforms. Additionally, it stimulated employers and employees to adopt a remote work culture which helps in enabling business continuity and creating a connected, engaged, and happy workforce virtually. However, once the crisis subsided, companies started restarting with on-premise operations, with a section of employees still working remotely. This gave rise to hybrid workplaces and inevitable enterprise friction. A Forbes article reported that organizations lost $60 billion due to friction such as poor customer service in 2016, a $20 billion increase over the past three years. But, how well do you know enterprise friction?
Enterprise friction is the resistance that occurs during normal business processes. Any barrier or hindrance prevents employees from getting the assistance, information, or services they need from their employers.
Organizational friction can take many forms such as:
- There is a lack of access to the right information at the right time
- Limited technical support
- Documents are not accessible
- High level of digital complexity
- Poor employee training
- Issues with devices like laptops, software etc.
The employee experience is one of the significant flaws in enterprise fiction. Employees who encounter bottlenecks in every process or task they attempt can become frustrated and inefficient. Thus, companies should invest in reducing workplace friction if they want to ensure their employees are as happy and as productive as possible to focus and invest in providing the best possible support and service.
What are the reasons for reducing employee friction?
Reduced enterprise friction can lead to a variety of benefits, including:
- An increase in employee retention
- Enhance employee engagement and satisfaction
- Higher employee productivity
- Boost business profitability
Employee friction in remote and hybrid work environments
Hybrid workplaces provide employees with the flexibility to choose their mode of work. They comprise a workforce with employees working on-premise as well as remotely. However, it is common for the needs and interests of the two employees to clash, resulting in enterprise friction. The friction between on-site and remote employees is inevitable as the model of hybrid workplaces is fairly new. It is natural for management and employees to encounter a few roadblocks before achieving the ideal equilibrium.
Let's have a quick look at the challenges all remote workforce face!
- Remote employees often feel isolated from their team and manager. While work from office, employees can connect with colleagues, such as talking in the break room or visiting a colleague's desk. Due to this, they may feel like they aren't part of the team.
- It may be harder for remote employees to balance work and life. Work and personal time can easily be blurred when a home doubles as an office. It can significantly impact the well-being of employees who don't unplug from work.
- Proximity bias can have a detrimental effect on remote employee’s careers. Several misconceptions are underlying this, including a belief that remote employees aren't as productive or committed. Employees who physically work in the office (or are within walking distance of a manager) are sometimes considered for promotions, interesting projects, or recognition.
Now that you understand the challenges faced by remote employees, let's check out the problems faced by the onsite employees.
- There is a higher risk of exposure for frontline workers, many of whom have worked on-site since the pandemic began. There is also the added challenge of customers ignoring safety precautions.
- Employees may face different health risks depending on the type of work, where they do it and their health status. It is challenging for organizations to support different populations of workers and to ensure fairness across all employees. Thus, employers should monitor employees' mental and physical health for those who still need to report to work physically.
- Organizations must manage employee concerns and new working practices. Employee concerns need to be addressed, and leadership teams trained to lead with empathy. The culture of putting people first should extend throughout the organization. Effective communication and change management are essential now.
Thus, it is important for organizations to avoid such challenges.
Crucial ways to reduce the employee friction
- Understand The Cause Of The Friction It is not advisable (and rational) to jump to conclusions and solve the friction between on-site and remote employees without understanding the issue. Always start with identifying the cause of the issue and clearly defining the same. This will help you look at the problem objectively and provide you with a clear sense of direction. Never take the resentment between your employees at face value, as it will not help you reach a long-term solution. Talk to both groups of employees and objectively understand their points of view. You can always conduct focus group interviews, one-on-one sessions, surveys, or have open conversations with the employees involved. Start working towards solving the problem only after understanding the underlying causes.
- Make Decisions In The Interest Of Your Employees When it comes to making decisions about allowing your employees to work remotely or on-premise, always make sure that the decisions are made in the interest of the concerned employees. Do not force employees to work on-premise full-time if they are willing to work remotely. On the other hand, if your employees feel the need to work on-premise, do not ask them to continue working remotely. If your employees lose interest in their work and how they do it, it leads to resentment and lack of engagement. This can become a major reason for friction between remote and on-premise employees. Make sure that all your employees are happy and content with their respective work styles.
- Make Sure That Flexibility Is Consistent It is natural for anyone to believe that remote employees are more work flexibility than their on-site peers. This is one of the most common friction causes between the two groups. If on-site employees start feeling less accessible than those working remotely, they start resenting them. This makes it important for the management to make sure that work flexibility is consistent throughout the organization, irrespective of how the employee's work. For this, ensure that you define “flexibility” in your organization. Simply letting employees work from their homes should not be the only definition of work flexibility. Ensure that the on-site employees are provided with the same level of flexibility offered to the remote employees. While defining work flexibility for your organization, make sure that you put on-site and remote employees on the same pedestal. This would make both groups feel equal, reducing friction within the organization.
- Reconsider The Jobs That Can Be Performed Remotely In the age of digitization, hardly any jobs cannot be performed remotely. A number of software platforms across industries make it possible for employees to perform any job remotely. Collaborative platforms help professionals communicate and collaborate with their peers from any location. In such a scenario, it is always advisable to rethink the jobs that can be performed remotely. If you continue with the conventional approach and make employees, come to work every day when their job can be performed remotely, it reduces their engagement and increases workplace resentment. It is advisable to implement tools and platforms that allow your employees to work remotely if it is possible to do so. If they must work on-premise for selected days, you can have them work remotely for the remaining days. Try working around the best ways possible to provide your employees with a cordial work environment.
- Organize Gatherings Outside the Office Remote employees often fail to enjoy the privilege of bonding with their co-workers over coffee breaks and water cooler conversations. To bridge the gap between remote and on-site workers, organize casual gatherings outside the office premises. Bring both on-site and remote employees together and have them get to know each other well. This helps you get rid of the distance bias, preventing one of the groups from favouring less than the other. Such bonding sessions allow employees to strengthen their relationships with their peers and the management, leaving no scope for bitterness to seep in.
- Focus of employee recognitionIn the case of managing on-site as well as remote employees, it is crucial to focus on employee recognition. When you acknowledge the efforts put in by your employees and their contributions to your organization, it makes them feel special and included. Appreciate the on-site employees bringing themselves to the office every day. Appreciate the remote employees for not letting distance affect their tasks. Employee recognition allows you to build a good work culture and make all your employees feel like a part of one big family.
- Have A Homogenous ScheduleBoth remote and on-site employees may end up feeling that they are the victims of unfavourable schedules. While remote employees often feel that they work beyond the dedicated hours, on-site employees feel that their jobs are more time-bound than their peers working remotely. To get rid of these notions, make sure that you have a homogenous schedule in place.
A company's success is mainly dependent on its employees, no matter what industry it is in. Unfortunately, employee services are often overlooked. As we embark on the journey of 2022, organizations need to develop strategies that prevent friction among employees. By offering better and more timely employee support, businesses can retain top talent, increase employee engagement, and promote higher performance.
The points mentioned above are some of the crucial ways to reduce friction between remote and on-site employees. There is no doubt that the new year will bring new challenges, and you will be able to tackle all adversities with a united workforce.