The pandemic has created a new working world, one that’s more open than ever before. Remote work is a big part of that new environment.
And while this may be true, there are some downsides to working remotely. In particular, a sudden disruption to the feedback loop — and a hidden professional penalty for remote workers.
Here’s a report covered in the article “What Young Workers Miss Without the Power of Proximity” by The New York Times:
Ms. Becker, 28, along with all of her coworkers, reports to the office five days a week in San Mateo, California. The schedule is a sharp contrast to her prior employment at Yelp, where she conducted most of her business over the phone simply once a day while working from home. A benefit of the workplace that Ms. Becker has rediscovered is feedback. Many of them.
“I want you to inform me if there’s something in my teeth,” she said. “Because I want to advance in my career.”
At a leading technology company, the economists Natalia Emanuel, Emma Harrington, and Amanda Pallais studied the engineering department. They discovered that senior engineers were more productive when they worked remotely, while junior engineers received less feedback (in the form of comments on their code) and were more likely to leave their jobs. The negative impacts of working from home in terms of feedback were more prominent for female engineers.
The number of comments engineers made on each other’s code, a common and vital type of engagement at most software companies, provided the economists with a way to measure the feedback. Before the pandemic, engineers who worked in the same building received 21% more input than engineers who worked in different buildings. The feedback gap was virtually gone when the pandemic struck and everyone began working remotely, indicating that it was physical proximity rather than differences between the groups that had resulted in more positive feedback for in-person teams.
Ms. Shapiro, 36, discovered what she had been missing in her first week back in an office at Verkada. In the corridor, she ran into the company’s CEO, who extended an invitation for a meeting to discuss the department’s approach to compensation, which had come up during her job interview. She immediately scheduled the conversation through the CEO’s assistant.
“I also knew his assistant because I had gotten coffee with her. That would have been much more difficult if I had been remote because he would have questioned my attempt to meet with the CEO,”
Because they frequently lack the professional networks that working in an office can help to provide, women, young people, and people of color may suffer the greatest career consequences of remote work, which is highlighted by Ms. Shapiro’s experience. These same kinds of workers, however, are also the ones who value flexible arrangements the most and who are the least likely to return to the office voluntarily, according to multiple surveys.
Ms. Gonzalez, 36, has enrolled in a mentoring program for people of color and works remotely for Best Buy in social impact. She was informed that participants would meet frequently to talk about professional development. However, she discovered a month after joining up that she had unintentionally been excluded from the meeting invitations on the calendar.
“When you’re remote, you’re out of sight, out of mind,” describing her experience, adding that while she has generally felt happy about her flexible work arrangements, “there are growing pains.”
How to avoid the lack of feedback when working remotely?
The lack of feedback is indeed the biggest problem for remote teams. It can be hard for your team to know how they’re doing, what needs to change and how they can improve. But what if I tell you there’s a way to promote feedback culture while taking advantage of working from home?
Employee engagement tools like LEAD.bot are a great way to address this problem. Whether working in-office or remotely, not only does LEAD.bot help your teams be more engaged and connected, but also promote feedback in several ways.
A customer story about how a stressful environment won the best place to work award by leveraging LEAD.bot
One of our accomplished customers, a renowned brand in the property management industry based in Canada, secured the No. 3 spot on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work in Canada list for 2023 after utilizing LEAD.bot for just over a year. As many HR professionals might know, the property management industry presents unique challenges, including high employee turnover, diverse teams with varying needs, and the need to efficiently manage multiple properties while maintaining exceptional tenant relationships. This achievement is a source of pride for any company, and for this particular property management firm, it highlights their unwavering dedication to employee engagement and nurturing a cohesive team environment.
When the pandemic hit, the company quickly adopted a hybrid work model, with some employees working remotely and others on-site. They understood that maintaining strong connections within the enterprise is critical for maintaining productivity and employee engagement. They knew they needed a platform to help them realize their plans, and that’s where LEAD.bot came in.
With LEAD.bot, they were able to build a culture of trust, communication, and collaboration, ensuring that remote workers felt connected and included in the team. They used the platform to champion company culture and employee engagement, resulting in increased productivity, improved employee engagement, and better team cohesion.
Here are the things the company used LEAD.bot for which you can try for your organization as well:
1. Pulse Surveys. The company sent out pulse surveys using LEAD.bot to ask employees about their satisfaction when it comes to their relationship with their managers, and their communication with other team members. Based on the feedback received, they identify areas of improvement and take necessary steps to address the concerns of their employees.
2. Matching. They programmed LEAD.bot to match property managers with leasing agents to help them work together more effectively and improve tenant satisfaction. They also match employees who work in different locations, such as property managers and maintenance technicians, to help them build connections and work together more efficiently.
3. Speed Mentoring/Buddy Program. Using LEAD, they paired new property managers with experienced ones to help them learn the ropes and develop their expertise.
4. Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Initiatives. They used LEAD.bot to facilitate group discussions on topics such as community values for the tenant, community diversity & inclusion, and workplace diversity & inclusion. By fostering a culture of inclusion, you can gain a better reputation among the tenants and improve workplace satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall organizational success.
After months of implementation, the company’s management received positive feedback from employees, who participated in the LEAD.bot programs and saw much higher achievements from them compared with employees who did not practice in the program. That’s why they decided to expand the LEAD.bot program to their entire workplace this year right after they won the No. 3 spot on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work. This led to a more positive work environment, higher morale, and ultimately, a more successful business outcome for the organization.
Considering that insufficient feedback and lack of employee connectedness are primary reasons people leave their jobs, it’s essential to optimize your organization’s structure without sacrificing the advantages of remote and hybrid work. Encouraging peer feedback and fostering connections among employees are crucial in maintaining a supportive work environment. As the Future of Work continues to evolve, staying ahead of the curve and nurturing employee relationships is vital for achieving business success.
Source: Goldberg, E., & Casselman B. (2023). What Young Workers Miss Without the ‘Power of Proximity’. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/24/business/remote-work-feedback.html.