News Article

NEW NORMAL - 5 ways to help remote employees find connection, and thrive

Posted 3rd March 2022 • Written by GWEN MORAN on •

Over the past two years, companies have dealt with both the pandemic and a labor shortage. A recent survey conducted by the HR software company Principles found that 94% of responding companies onboarded new remote employees during the pandemic who have only interacted with their coworkers virtually. Of these companies, 31% responded that new employees are adapting but struggling to make connections with coworkers, while 10% are unsure of how these employees are adapting at all.

Struggles with connection and belonging can affect other areas of work, too, says Jeff Taylor, general manager and chief customer officer at Principles. Compounding the issue is that remote workers’ struggles may not be as visible as those of on-site workers. But managers can help struggling remote employees. Here are five ways to start:



One of the first things leaders and managers should do is ensure that they’re communicating and setting expectations appropriately, Taylor says. Because when leaders aren’t setting expectations clearly, explaining performance measurements, and inviting questions, employees may be trying to find their own ways without success. When you set expectations and measure against them, employees understand what’s expected of them, which is a common area of misunderstanding.


Yes, we all hate extraneous meetings, but it’s important to have regular check-ins, especially with new remote hires or those who aren’t performing as expected, says Brie Reynolds, career services manager at FlexJobs, a job-search site that specializes in remote work. These meetings, which can be brief, give your employees an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns privately and while they know they have your attention. Also, they give you an opportunity to see if there are gaps in your training, she says. “Sometimes, you don’t even know what you don’t know about what they need,” she says. Try once a week and then adjust the frequency as needed.


Reynolds advises creating a simple training and resource outline, which can help new employees understand the training they’ll need to be successful, as well as the resources that are available to them. And mapping out a daily guide for the first few weeks can help resolve that awkward new employee phase.


Cran says it’s also important to connect employees to each other in virtual settings. Without formats through which they can interact, employees may become isolated and siloed. Virtually, “they’re ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and not included in other meetings or other socializing opportunities within the organization,” she says. Use platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams and encourage employees to ask questions of each other and interact. 


If you’re managing a struggling remote employee, be mindful that you may need to look at how you’re managing the situation. Taylor says it’s important to get to know your team members well so that you can adapt your approach.

Clarity around expectations, fostering connections and regular dialogue, and ensuring that employees have the resources and training they need can go a long way toward helping remote workers thrive.

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