When remote employees feel connected to their teams and involved in projects, they can be among your most productive—and happiest—employees. But if they start feeling isolated or left out, that can change quickly.
Unfortunately, as a manager, it’s sometimes difficult to know when a virtual worker is feeling disconnected. The usual cues you pick up by watching or talking to team members in neighboring cubicles aren’t available to you. And those who work from home are sometimes hesitant to complain about problems, fearing that their concerns won’t be appreciated or understood.
Original article here.
7 Signs of Remote Employee Isolation and Loneliness
There are seven things you can look out for that may indicate your employee is feeling disconnected from their job.
1. Misses Deadlines or Is Sloppy
This is probably the most obvious sign of employee disconnection. If a usually dependable team member starts turning in sloppy work or begins missing deadlines, investigate immediately. Find out if there was a misunderstanding about a specific assignment or if the problem goes deeper. Then talk to the employee to develop a solution.
If, for example, your employee didn’t understand the scope of the project, find out what happened. Were the directions not clear? Was there missing information? If, however, the employee is distracted because of a sick family member, see what flexibility you can offer your employee until that relative is on the mend.
2. Stops Offering Input
If you’re managing your remote team members well, they should feel like they have as much of a voice in group discussions and planning as their colleagues in the office. If a remote worker suddenly stops offering suggestions or participating in goal setting, they might be feeling disconnected from the team.
Make sure staff have the tools they need to participate in planning sessions, and follow up on meetings with an email or an instant message to seek further input and ideas. Ask for their specific input before or during a meeting and give them a chance to have their thoughts heard.
3. Calls In Sick or Changes Their Schedule
While many remote workers appreciate the flexibility that comes with working from home, they are still expected to work. That means being online and available during their established schedule and attending scheduled meetings. It also means being available during other team members’ scheduled workdays for team meetings and collaborative sessions.
If a team member shifts their work hours to times outside of their established schedule, works when no one else is available, or takes numerous sick days without explanation, it may be due to feelings of isolation.
Talk to the worker about this problem, clarifying your expectations for their schedule and exploring the reasons for the change. Sometimes simply offering that verbal nudge will be enough to get them back on track.
However, during the pandemic, it’s important to explore these changes with staff. Perhaps they have children that need help with school or activities during work hours, or they have to take care of a loved one. Discuss the reasons for the shift and offer flexibility and support until work and life are closer to normal.
4. Doesn’t Interact With Colleagues
Your team members must collaborate frequently to succeed, no matter where they are located. If you’ve given your remote worker the proper online tools to foster that teamwork, but they suddenly stop communicating or working with their colleagues, something is likely amiss. First, make sure they know how to use all of your collaboration tools. If the problem isn’t technical, it may be a result of feeling disconnected from the team.
Take steps to improve communication, and consider implementing some team-building activities that are fun and open to both office and virtual workers. The key is to bring your people together and rebuild their trust in each other.
5. Skips Meetings
If your remote worker starts skipping meetings, it could be due to a technical problem that is relatively easy to resolve. But it also could be a sign of growing isolation.
You can help by making sure you have the technology available to allow all remote workers to participate in meetings with both audio and video. Then go out of your way to invite their input.
6. Only Talks Shop
In order to develop a solid relationship with a remote worker, your one-on-one discussions should cover more than task assignments, productivity metrics, and deadlines. You need to get to know each other through more casual chatter, just as you do with team members in the office. If your remote employee suddenly becomes unwilling to talk about anything other than work or seems distracted or angry during your one-on-ones, something is up.
Don’t push the issue, but see if you can figure out what that “something” is. Offer a friendly ear for staff to vent to.
7. Isn’t Interested in Career Development
Whether they are working in a cubicle or from their home office, almost all employees want to feel like their company offers them opportunities to develop new skills and advance themselves. While your employees may have specific training or education in mind, help them take advantage of opportunities for growth and development by recommending classes to them.
If, however, one of your remote employees seems uninterested in conferences or classes that could help them do their job more efficiently or effectively, it could be a sign that they are disconnecting from work.
Original article here.