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3 UNEXPECTED WAYS TELEPRESENCE CAN IMPROVE THE WORKPLACE

Working remotely is on the rise. However, so is employee turnover as 1 out of 2 people with a job in the US are looking for a new employer.

This costs your company resources you can’t afford to lose. To keep your remote employees happy, productive, and committed, they need to feel they’re a valuable part of your workplace community. And while video conferencing can help your team view their remote counterparts, giving distance staff the tools to have an actual physical presence is a game changer.

Here are three factors to keep in mind for remote employee engagement, happiness, retention, and productivity.

The advantages of a workplace avatar - especially for introverts

There are many benefits of working at home, but these perks can’t replace social interaction. Developers are exploring how avatars can help remote staff feel more connected to colleagues.

One study launched by Facebook IQ and Neurons Inc. examined how people responded cognitively and emotionally to social situations in a virtual reality setup. Participants, using headgear, were represented by avatars on a virtual train.

The participants were able to have authentic conversations and responded positively to the other participants. At the same time, it’s also interesting to note that introverts and extroverts respond differently.

  • Ninety-three percent of all participants said they liked their fellow participant;  
  • Eighty-three percent of introverts wanted to be friends with their partner in real life vs. fifty-seven percent of extroverts.

While the study was focused on how VR facilities social connection, the implications for using any kind of “avatar” - including a telepresence robot like Beam - to represent a team member “in person” are clear. For the most introverted, the level of comfort is exceptionally high, and for others, including extroverts, today’s tech-driven version of presence is becoming more and more commonplace - and accepted.

The Link Between Customer and Employee Engagement

There is a growing trend to treat employees like customers. With the high amounts of turnover, companies need to compete to keep employees on board. You hear about the importance of being customer-centric. Now, the most successful companies are also employee-centric.

To keep remote employees engaged, it is helpful to apply practices you use with customers to employees. Here are two employee-centric practices that can help you boost staff engagement.

Measure everything - You measure your customer engagement. Why not measure your employee engagement as well? From recruiting practices to onboarding and to employee development, your company needs to measure how your employees are responding to your different practices.

This includes your remote employee policies. It’s important to get regular feedback on collaboration, productivity and overall satisfaction from both your on-site team members and for those who work part-time or full-time from a distance.

Segmentation - You don’t send the same email template to all future clients. You segment clients by their interests and roles. The same goes with employees. Remote freelancers do not need to receive the same emails as the sales team. With today’s email tracking tools and email marketing software, communication can be segmented to keep your teams focused on what matters to them.

Hacking Tech-driven Face-to-ace Interactions

If you are struggling to keep your mostly remote team fully engaged while integrating digital transformation, don’t worry - there’s always options to supplement the digital workplace with solutions that support face-to-face interactions.

If you don’t currently have a huddle room, consider adding one to your home office. Today’s open office settings make it difficult at times to have focused, productive, impromptu meetings - and that includes when one of the participants is Beaming in.

Creating a dedicated space that allows your team to connect from wherever they are in the world provides essential support for those brainstorming sessions and informal presentations that crop up regularly between in-office staff and distance workers. Even if your office only has one telepresence robot available for remote team members, others can easily join in for a robust, productive collaboration.

Hosting staff meet-ups, hubs, or activities can also be a good way to supplement the isolation created by remote work. Your remote teams can meet up with other staff in their city to meet and talk about business or life. Workplaces do not have to be completely office-based or digitally based. Your company can create a fusion workplace that fits your team best.

Written by Brooklin Nash. Brooklin Nash focuses on helping companies build their online brand with an engaging content marketing approach. With a bent for SaaS and B2B tools, Brooklin enjoys staying up to date and what can help SMBs grow. He currently works and lives in Central America as a "digital transplant.”