Keeping a Remote Workforce Connected

How can you improve your company’s employment experience when your employees are not located in a shared centralized environment? Whether your workers are out on construction sites, dispatched on a daily schedule of customer visits, working from home, or staffing client locations, the challenge is the same: how to create a unified and satisfying workplace community, identity, and culture.   Being realistic, the expectation is not to overcome every alienating aspect of remote employment.  But if your goal is to achieve an edge over the other competitors in your industry, this might be all it takes to make a significant difference in employee satisfaction and retention.

One trending way to promote community is to deploy a social intranet platform.   Thanks to innovative web-based applications, this no longer requires a dedicated network, IT staff, and expensive software.  In fact, some products offer a free basic level of service, such as Slack.com.  Since we know that employees use their mobile phones to stay connected with their social networks, your business can use this comfort and create an online place for employees to connect with co-workers and the company.

To experiment with this option, Consultstu has built a mock-up intranet environment for internal testing on Slack, and it seems to offer reasonable functionality without any optional upgrades.   Membership can be configured using  any email address, no need for a shared company email domain.  While Slack is marketed primarily for work project collaboration, we are more interested in its potential for small business social cohesion, creating something similar to a Facebook venue but without intruding or overlapping into your employees’ public social online world.  We named our Slack site “ConsultStu-Breakroom,” because that is the environment being simulated: the socialization that would take place if your workforce gathered every day under the same roof.

We had some fun testing Slack and adding content.

Multiple communications “channels” can be created for various purposes.  This allows for a single channel to be reserved for company communications: open enrollment, meetings, etc.  Other channels can be used to recognize birthdays or anniversaries, post pet photos, organize participation in a local 5K, or find out who has the best chili recipe.

For those who think socialization is something for management to guard against rather than encourage, consider what Alan Kohll has to say in a recent Forbes article: “Employers who support social connections in the workplace and help employees form strong relationships with one another help build a successful workforce.”  There is a natural human craving for connection and recognition, and providing remote workers a platform to build a workplace community is worth your consideration.  Contact us at ConsultStu if you would like to visit our Slack “breakroom.”

 

 

 

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