According to new data from global staffing firm Randstad USA and Apartment Guide, a majority of workers want flexibility, but many admitted to distractions and difficulty disconnecting at the end of the day when working from home:

  • 57 percent admit to doing household chores like laundry, cleaning, or cooking while working from home.
  • 32 percent admit to getting distracted by the TV. 
  • 29 percent have had a pet or child disrupt a work call.
  • 44 percent actually prefer working in the office because it's easier to disconnect from their jobs.

While working from home can offset some transportation expenses, it can also lead to loneliness, especially among younger workers: 43 percent of Gen-Z workers admit they get lonely working from home, compared with 26 percent of all workers. This leads to an increased risk of disengagement and even burnout.

The Solution

"Managers with remote workers can take steps to promote as much collaboration and face time as possible with teammates to combat isolation," said Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America.

Here are five strategies that may help managers engage their virtual workers:

1. Ongoing recognition

Regularly recognizing your remote employees' contributions can prevent them from feeling invisible, isolated, or underappreciated -- feelings that may impact remote employee retention.

2. In-person meetings once a quarter

Whether for an employee retreat, town hall, or holiday party, getting everyone together under one roof at least once per quarter will create a sense of community, promote team bonding, and boost employee morale. These in-person meetings are also an excellent place to showcase those employee accomplishments.

3. Clear channels of communication

Too often, remote workers are left out of the loop because they're not physically present. But just like traditional, in-office employees, remote workers want clear expectations for the job and access to information. When they have questions or concerns, they want to know exactly where to go, whom to talk to, and how to initiate conversations or requests.

4. Regularly scheduled check-ins

Prioritizing daily check-ins lets remote employees know they're a critical part of the team -- and ensures that they stay aligned and accountable as things change. Since remote teams may be geographically dispersed and in different time zones, it's helpful to assign a group of people at corporate to be "on call" during regular business hours.

5. Challenging work assignments

Remote workers can often feel disconnected from their peers at the office. Even worse is the feeling that they're merely cogs in the machine, called on to do specific tasks without being given any attention in the process. The key is to make them feel valued, not forgotten, by assigning more responsibility that gives them purpose and adds meaning to their work and career development.