Remote work.

Just saying it elicits dozens of idealized perks both employees and employers dream of. 

Yet, it comes with challenges and shadows that threaten vital human connection that most managers are unprepared to face. 

For organizations, remote work means talent pools can be broadened to attract the best talent regardless of location, operation costs can be lowered with less physical office space, and their happy, remote employees are engaged and highly productive. 

For employees, remote work appears to be the Promise Land: autonomy, no commute, an ideal work-life balance, working days in sweatpants, and the ultimate freedom to live and work anywhere.

However, recent studies show that remote work can lead employees to feel a greater sense of being left out. (Source: Harvard Business Review.) That feeling of isolation can then undermine team dynamic and individual relationships, leaving a manager to have to address trust and performance issues alongside daily work. 

Fortunately there are a few simple proactive actions managers can take to fortifying the human connection in their remote team and to reduce the sense of isolation. 

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The first proactive action is to ask the right discovery questions in one-to-one meetings. For example, if a manager asks a direct report, “What would make you feel more connected to the team, me, or day to day information?”, the door is opened to let an employee express what they personally need and for the manager to deliver on the request. 

Employees might answer that question saying that simply having more access to the manager/leader would really help them feel more informed on the day to day. 

In a traditional in-person office, most managers could meet this need by offering a casual, yet consistent, drop-in at an employee’s desk and invite the employee to do the same. It only takes a few minutes every day to make a team member feel they can reach out when needed and are reassured that a manager is committed to supporting them.