How to give feedback while you work from home
Challenges for employees and companies while working from homeWorking from home is trendy. Especially millennials are increasingly striving for more flexible working conditions including remote work from outside the office walls. Yet, despite the hype around remote working spaces, it is not everyone who currently sees this as their most productive setup or feel equipped to provide a good working environment in their own home. This also goes for companies, who have been challenged in their current mindset, on how their workforce work and collaborate during the current COVID-19 crisis. However, offering a flexible working environment will become a must for companies in the future, and this means that companies needs to prepare and expand their understanding of how working remotely impacts the company culture and working environment.
Challenge 1: Lack of social contact with colleaguesUntil today, the physical separation from colleagues does still often lead to an increased complexity in work collaboration. While content can still be shared via emails, phone calls and video conferencing, the interpersonal contact with colleagues is severely limited. The quick chat in coffee breaks or simply the greetings on the office floors is barely existing for remote workers anymore. Those moments, however, can be quite valuable as they provide a space for the exchange of informal feedback. This kind of appreciation from colleagues is eliminated while working from home and can lead to a decent level of uncertainty for employees.
Challenge 2: Increased workload in home officeBalancing work and home is not easy for many employees. It is not uncommon that differentiating between working hours and private time becomes a challenge, especially when your dining table also is your working desk. Consequently, the feeling of having to be available for work becomes more prominent also in times outside the typical working time. Ultimately, this leads to longer working hours as well as an increased level of work stress.
Challenge 3: Lack of insights into employee activities from a manager’s perspectiveRemote work is not only challenging for employees but also for their managers. Since the individual activities of team members often seem more difficult to track, the leadership style of managers needs to focus much more on trust and empowerment. While this seems to be part of a modern leadership style, it still requires a cultural change from many managers.
Why employee feedback is important when working from homeEmployee feedback & recognition plays an increasingly important role in today’s working environment. Entering the "War for Talents", a work culture characterized by recognition is one building block (in addition to possible home office scenarios) to foster employee retention and attract new talents. Having employees working from home, the necessity to actively care about their wellbeing becomes even more important.
Effect 1: Increase employee motivation and employee satisfactionWhile having employees working from home it is important that the above-mentioned challenges do not negatively influence working morale and employee satisfaction. Thereby, the right balance between critical and positive feedback is a lever to share the appreciation employees need. A regular recognition of the commitment can lead to an increased job satisfaction which in turn boosts the employee’s motivation at work.
Effect 2: Developing a sense of belonging and team buildingIn addition to the feedback from superiors, the feedback from colleagues can play a crucial role. The working relationship with colleagues is often closer than with superiors, which puts colleagues into the position of providing an additional, sometimes even more detailed, perspective of one’s working performance. Accordingly, the feedback from colleagues is of high value and strengthens the sense of belonging in the team. Stating the obvious, an improvement of an employee’s work performance derived from a good team spirit does also benefit the employer in the end.
How to give feedback to employees in home officeThere are different ways of maintaining the feedback culture in home office situations, depending on the corporate culture.
Option 1: “Feedback” appointments with team / individualsThe easiest solution to give and receive feedback is a regular appointment. Thereby, it can be differentiated between team meetings and individual 1-to-1s with the team members. Depending on the size of the team, the individual 1-to-1s can quickly take up a lot of time in a manager’s schedule. The frequency of feedback meetings should therefore be defined based on the meeting type (team vs. individually).
Option 2: “Feedback” surveys with employees (e.g. via Google Forms, Surveymonkey, ...)This alternative is characterized by an increased preparation effort beforehand. Once set up, a survey offers the opportunity to collect feedback from employees in home office and to evaluate the results digitally. Especially with young and technology-oriented companies, data analysis is becoming increasingly important for them to draw the right conclusions for an improvement of the company culture. However, collecting feedback through team-overarching surveys comes with the characteristic that the results most likely are referred to the team rather than to employees individually. Additionally, surveys can often be impacted by certain events that happened close to the survey being filled out, and thereby not providing a complete and accurate picture.
Option 3: Appreciation through a digital recognition platformPeer-to-peer recognition platforms offer an advanced and modern solution for giving feedback at work. They enable direct digital feedback between colleagues and are therefore well suited for home office scenarios. Thereby, receiving feedback from colleagues does also relieve managers in their role of distributing appreciation. At the same time managers will get insights into the employees’ activities and the performance of individual team members. For example, when evaluating the performance of an intern, the manager does not always need to reach out to the intern’s buddy but can already get first impressions by reading the recognitions the intern got from colleagues.
ConclusionHow to treat employees in home office depends on each company’s individual corporate culture. However, recognizing team members should be part of a modern leadership style regardless of the recognition type. Therefore, managers should have this topic on their agenda and proactively look for a suitable recognition solution for their own team / company.