Water-cooler chats, casual Fridays, and whiteboard brainstorming sessions. Do these sound like relics of a bygone era? 

How we experience work has radically changed. For many, the days of in-person meetings and cubicle chit-chat are a distant memory—but employee experience is no less important for remote teams. So, how do employers create positive experiences for distributed teams?

It comes down to the virtual environments we work in—our remote work tools. Today, we’ll discuss what employee experience is, why it matters, and how our tools create it in a remote-first world. 

What is employee experience?

Every single employee has an experience—it’s an inevitable part of working together. We’re constantly interacting with our employer, virtually or not, and employee experience is the cumulative impact of those interactions. 

What those experiences mean to us and how they impact our well-being can make the difference between a good day or a bad day at work. Feeling appreciated, fulfilled, stressed, or burnt out could all be facets of an employee’s experience. 

Companies are used to paying careful attention to customer experience. But now, they realize that employee experience is equally important—perhaps more important than ever.

Why does employee experience matter?

Employee experience is about keeping employees engaged and operating efficiently, but it also improves metrics like retention, and turnover. It’s about treating people well and creating safe, comfortable, and productive workplaces. 

When people have a better experience, they put in more effort, do better work, and stay with their companies longer. And what organization doesn’t want that? 

Today, the remote work revolution means workers have more options than ever. Employees can work from anywhere and companies need to put in more effort than ever to keep their people. If they can’t provide their best workers with a good remote work experience, organizations will lose top talent and productivity will suffer—all of which will affect their bottom line. 

How to bring workplace practices to a remote world

The remote employee experience

Before COVID-19, employee experience revolved around the on-site work environment and in-person interactions with leaders, managers, and colleagues. Today, those aspects still matter, but many organizations have much less control over employees’ remote work environment—and much less (if any) face-to-face connection.

Back in 2019, only 13% of employees were fully satisfied with their experience, and just 24% of organizations were actively focused on shaping it. But by 2021, 92% of HR leaders cited employee experience as a top priority—a focus that remains today.

Creating positive employee experiences has never been easy, and it is more complex than ever post-COVID-19. The pandemic, and its accompanying workforce disruptions, were felt strongly by many organizations. In a recent survey on employee experience, 40% of respondents reported a decline in engagement, and 37% said their culture was negatively impacted.

Today, employers need to create a good employee experience with a radically different toolkit—and many are learning to do so completely on the fly. That’s why it’s so important to be intentional about choosing the right tools for remote work. If where we are physically working from no longer feels as important, these tools make the difference between stressful, inefficient processes and an intuitive daily flow that fosters connection.

How to build an effective remote employee experience 

Frequent, honest, and open communication—at all levels of a company—is the foundation of a positive employee experience and creating an engaging workplace environment. In a remote, hybrid, or on-premise model, communication is everything. But unfortunately, this isn’t yet reality. According to research from Gartner, 82% of employees feel their work environment lacks fairness. 

Here are a few ways to foster a transparent company culture, build trust, and create workplaces that feel equitable, comfortable, and safe: 

  • Share information equally with all employees to keep everyone informed and empowered
  • Listen to employees through regular 1-to-1 check-ins and surveys and show them their feedback is actually acted upon 
  • Facilitate communication & connection between teams to maintain alignment and visibility into work

Translating these values into a remote or distributed context is possible—it just takes a little technological magic. Let’s break down what that looks like. 

Workflow documentation

When teams aren’t physically together in an office, sharing knowledge isn’t as simple as asking a colleague, “How do we archive those invoices again?”

That’s why remote teams need to use technology to document how they do things and make those processes easily accessible to everyone. This creates transparency, helps everyone work more efficiently, and equips everyone with the tools they need to do their job. 

Well-documented, accessible workflows will make your company more adaptable, resilient, and efficient. In a remote-first world, employers need software to do this. Work-management tools like Trello and Confluence are two great options.  

Workflow documentation means knowing how to archive those invoices even after Susan from finance has left and getting her replacement up to speed in a couple of hours. It can also enhance work because your team can look at their processes objectively and analyze what areas need to be improved.

Streamlined coordination and communication

Remote teams need a way to easily stay on top of tasks and communicate across tools and timezones to keep work moving.  A tool like Jira Work Management that can manage tasks, deadlines, and deliverables across multiple teams and projects can save teams time by streamlining work in one place. And no need to ping someone for the latest update—just use Atlas to get the latest.

Tools like these will keep teams focused because they won’t have to search across tools to find out who’s doing what and when. They won’t have to ping co-workers on Slack (or worse, over email) to learn the status of important tasks. Leadership can see what’s happening and when, saving everyone the time of sitting through status-update meetings.

Collaboration tool consolidation

Remote teams need video-conferencing, instant-messaging, real-time and asynchronous collaboration, and access to key information. Bringing as many of these functions as possible into a single platform saves time and headaches for remote workers. Instead of juggling multiple tools for all the above functions, consolidation puts the focus back where it should be—the task at hand! 

That’s why tool consolidation is one of the biggest remote work trends. And it doesn’t require you to abandon all the tools you already rely on! Thanks to integration and automation, many different tools can work together effortlessly.

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Engage and create positive employee experiences with Atlassian tools

Honesty, fairness, and open access to information make employees happier at work—that hasn’t changed in our remote-first world. In our new working model, we’re still pursuing the same timeless values; we just have the tools to do so in a new way. But remember: You can have too much of a good thing. Too many separate apps and platforms can make collaboration difficult instead of seamless.

Atlassian work management suite makes things simple while keeping your virtual teams connected. Users can organize, track, and share work on one cloud-based platform without losing access to features that help them do their unique jobs. 

The remote employee experience: A guide to a thriving workforce