The coronavirus has brought on a lot of “new normals,” one of which is remote work. With more employees working from home now than ever, employee isolation and loneliness are on the rise. To help your workforce combat employee isolation while working remotely, learn how to prevent it and the signs to look out for.

Preventing remote employee isolation: 5 tips

According to a Buffer study, 19% of employees said that loneliness is the biggest struggle of remote work. With COVID-19 causing many employees to have no choice but to telecommute, working from home isolation is inevitable. However, there are a number of ways to help ward off isolation. To keep your remote employees connected and steer clear of isolation, use these five tips.

1. Chat away

Communication at work is not only important, but also necessary. This is especially true when your team is working remotely. If you want to avoid having employees feel isolated at work, you need to find ways to keep in touch throughout the day.

Some tools your remote team can use to communicate during the day include:

  • Videoconferencing software
  • Chat channels (e.g., Slack)
  • Project management software
  • Email

Having clear, open, and honest communication is a must in any type of work environment. So, make sure your employees have the tools in place to effectively communicate and collaborate from a distance.

2. Encourage social breaks

Breaks are an important part of the workday, regardless of if you’re working in the office or remotely. They make your team more productive. Not to mention, 90% of employees say that taking a break helps them feel refreshed and ready to work.

Instead of shaming social and snack breaks, encourage employees to take them. Breaks not only give remote employees a chance to kick back and relax for a brief moment, but they also give them the opportunity to catch up with their fellow co-workers.

Support those virtual watercooler breaks and chitchat sessions. You never know … it could lead to a boost in productivity, happier employees, and (hopefully) a decrease in employee isolation.

3. Have remote team-building activities

Team-building activities may seem a little cheesy, but they certainly do the trick when it comes to combating employee isolation.

To bring your team together and keep them connected throughout the workweek, consider testing out the following team-building tactics (all via video chat, of course):

  • Team lunch
  • Show and tell
  • Trivia night
  • Coffee break

Along with preventing employee isolation, team-building tactics have a number of perks, like motivating employees, boosting productivity, and improving communication. Get creative with your team-building time. And remember: have fun with it!

4. Support employees

Without the proper support, employees wouldn’t be able to enhance their skill sets or grow into future leaders. And as a leader, you need to make sure you’re giving your team that much-needed support, even if you’re temporarily or permanently remote.

To support your employees while in a virtual environment, you can have weekly 1:1 meetings with each employee to catch up with them and discuss tasks for the week. If you’re not a fan of the 1:1 meeting idea or don’t have time in your schedule for them, consider having a daily meeting with your team. That way, you can support your team if they have questions or concerns and keep open communication with them.

Whatever route you decide to take, make sure you are listening to your team and setting some time aside to give them the support they need to grow in the (virtual) workplace.

5. Celebrate successes

Remote work or not, employee successes deserve to be celebrated. Don’t let working from home get in the way of recognizing and appreciating your team’s workplace achievements.

To celebrate big (and small) workplace wins and help combat employee isolation, consider utilizing a performance or engagement software to recognize employees from afar.

Depending on the software you go with, you may be able to do things like reward employees with points for achievements or give an employee a shoutout to congratulate them on a job well done.

Using performance management software can also keep your employees engaged and give them an opportunity to recognize each others’ accomplishments.

tips for combating remote employee isolation

Signs your remote employees are feeling isolated

As you can tell, there are plenty of ways to help your remote team steer clear of employee isolation. But even if you implement the above tips, you should still look out for signs that remote workers are feeling lonely, and consider new ways to keep them included.

Some signs that your employees are feeling isolated at work may include:

  1. Missing deadlines
  2. Not offering input
  3. Skipping meetings
  4. Little to no motivation
  5. Decrease in productivity

Don’t let your remote employees suffer in silence. Instead, keep your eyes peeled for the above signs and catch employee isolation early and prevent bigger issues from forming.