There’s a stigma attached to working from home—on average, remote workers tend to receive fewer promotions and earn lower salaries. Historically, they also have higher turnover compared to on-site staff. It’s possible to look at these patterns as proof that people need to be in an office to be held accountable. But organizations like GitLab, Facebook, and other big tech companies are reckoning with another possible explanation—an infrastructure that doesn’t support remote workers or give them opportunities to thrive.

To optimize the employee experience for a newly remote workforce, companies are becoming “remote first,” which means reinventing what it means to work from home.

Show Executives Working Remotely

Leadership needs to set an example for the rest of the organization and normalize the idea of working productively from home. The best way to do this is to create visibility—ask executives and other leaders to work remotely for at least several days a week. This helps to reassure employees and set a new standard for working from home.

Use Communication Technology Strategically

Select an instant messaging plan that only stores individual messages for 90 days—any projects that will take longer than three months to complete should have a messaging board that’s visible and accessible team-wide. Clear, formalized documentation helps to make the workplace more inclusive and transparent—just make sure employees understand any software limitations you enforce.

Host Events Online

In an office setting, it’s easy to plan events. But in the virtual realm, it can be more challenging to engage your audience. Add structure to the activity to give everyone a chance to participate and work together. For example, you could host a department-wide virtual gaming session, workshop, walk-a-thon, or fitness class.

Create Team-Awarded Discretionary Bonuses

If you want to reinforce company values, create an incentive for team members with discretionary bonuses. At GitLab, employees nominate one another for an award when individuals exemplify company values. The bonus and public recognition remind employees of the company’s overall mission and interdependence.

Build Team Cohesion and Trust

Employees need autonomy to do their best work and develop an emotional stake in the company. Managers can help support team members by offering them independence. Conduct training among leadership to help them avoid micromanaging staff and instead build space for creativity and innovation. Embrace asynchronous communication and flexible scheduling, both of which make it easier for people to limit interruptions and concentrate deeply.

Care for Employees

What on-site benefits are typically afforded to employees at the office? Find ways to incorporate these perks into your employment package for remote workers. For example, if on-site staff have access to a gym, do remote employees get wellness credits for gyms near them—or a digital subscription to a wellness app? Make sure the benefits you offer are equitable and accessible for everyone and gather information about the enrollment rate, participation rate, and employee feedback.

Create a Taskforce to Own the Transition

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to optimizing your business for a remote workforce. The undertaking involves everything from revising the employment package to management training and launching an internal communications campaign, selecting software licensing, and more. Facebook recently posted a job listing for a director of remote work to “drive a company-wide shift toward remote-first ways of working,” and, according to The Washington Post, other businesses are taking a similar approach by adding a new C-suite position to spearhead the transition.

When you decide to move to a remote-first business model, designate an individual or taskforce who will take complete ownership over the project. Centralizing this responsibility helps to ensure the process is evaluated from multiple angles and receives the attention it warrants. 

It might seem more challenging to communicate your company’s values to a workforce that’s working from home—but in reality, the situation just demands a different mindset and strategy than a traditional business model. If you’re looking for ways to improve your employment package and create new incentives for your team, Gympass can help. Gympass offers a variety of wellness benefits, including membership plans for over 55,000 fitness partners worldwide. To learn more about our corporate service plans, request a quote here.