Oct 11, 2023
8 mins read
Employee feedback doesn’t often get the attention it deserves.
Employee feedback as part of remote workplace engagement is rarely discussed. But with almost five million employees working from home at least half of the time, it needs to be addressed. Especially considering these stats from a recent Zippia study:
These numbers don’t lie. But, without a full-time physical office to foster a feeling of togetherness and providing an ample opportunity to get employee feedback, many companies are finding that managing remote workplace engagement is quite challenging.
One company that has risen to this challenge is Shutterstock, where they are clearly taking thoughtful and intentional measures to gather employee feedback and find creative ways to encourage remote workplace engagement for both their fully remote employees, as well as their hybrid employees.
Recently, we chatted with Ashley Casey, Global Assistant Director of Workplace Experience & Operations, Shutterstock, to learn more about how employee feedback informs their remote workplace engagement strategies.
Flexspace (FS): How do your approaches to employee engagement differ when it comes to remote teams?
Ashley Casey (AC): At Shutterstock, our approach to hybrid and remote employees doesn’t differ when it comes to engagement.
To create a sense of community when employees work remotely, we’ve set up remote-specific Slack channels, and we consistently communicate with them about the latest news at Shutterstock. We encourage them to partake in virtual team-building events, tune into one of many educational events sponsored by our Employee Resource Groups, attend internal All Hands meetings, and participate in our robust Learning & Development program.
For hybrid employees, we prioritize opening offices in LEED-certified buildings that have multi-functional spaces to facilitate collaboration, and up-to-date technology so employees can connect across the globe with ease. Our offices also include amenities like gyms or outdoor spaces, free breakfast and lunch, quality snacks and beverages, and murals painted by local artists to add a personalized touch. Where we have destination hubs and coworking suites, we have designed culturally centric wall and glass wraps, and showcase diverse, authentic imagery from our Shutterstock collections.
We’re committed to consistently improving the overall flow of the space to ensure our employees are getting the best experience to feel connected and engaged with each other and with the organization.
Additionally, with all of our employees (regardless of whether they’re at home or an office) we offer a robust set of training and development programs to acquire new skills and advance their careers internally or externally. These are all done virtually, to create a space for employees to learn in real-time while seeing their colleagues around the globe.
FS: Why are employee engagement and workplace culture so important, particularly for remote employees?
AC: In this era of flexible working, especially in a global company where one’s teammate may not be in the same time zone, it’s easy for employees to feel that they’re on their own island and disconnected from everyone. It’s important for organizations to consistently nurture and invest in local workplace culture as a happy and engaged workforce results in higher efficiency, productivity levels, and content quality.
Employee engagement and workplace culture are an ongoing effort as the standards and expectations of the marketplace are ever-evolving. Curating location-specific strategies and consistently monitoring the effectiveness and adapting as needed are key to staying ahead of the workforce trends.
FS: What sort of role does employee feedback play in contributing to the approaches you use in terms of employee engagement and workplace culture?
AC: Coinciding office Slack channels along with regular anonymous surveys and feedback forums are vital in the Workplace and Facilities industry to monitor offices and teams, answer questions or concerns in real-time, identify workplace experience gaps, and enhance culture. We use this data to develop engagement strategies, and improve financial decisions, real estate, in-house amenities, and employee preferences. This care, no matter how small, fosters community and trust, allowing employees to be constructive and honest, knowing their concerns will be promptly addressed.
FS: What have you discovered from your remote and hybrid employees as some of the challenges they’re facing with engagement and feeling like a part of a workplace when they’re not coming into a physical office full-time or at all?
AC: The pull factors we’ve encountered are that employees want a true work-life balance. They’ve moved out of cities, no longer find the office productive and their values have altered. Employees want a people and community-focused culture and environment, increased wellness benefits, schedule flexibility, inclusive learning environments, agency, and autonomy that is optimal for productivity, along with programs and initiatives that enrich the overall workplace experience (quality over quantity).
One of the areas we’ve consistently seen prioritized by our employees is an increased focus on wellness. So we’ve tried to create wellness experiences where employees can feel healthy while also connecting with each other. We’ve hosted virtual yoga sessions and virtual meditation, we offer a free membership to the Calm app for employees and their families, and in some regions, subsidized gym memberships. Our Employee Resource Groups have also been fantastic partners, hosting virtual events like trivia, external speakers, cooking sessions, and more, creating spaces for employees to connect to each other and our culture of inclusivity.
FS: What has your team done to try to address those challenges?
AC: We’ve established 3 types of workspaces that all function differently–destination hubs, coworking suites, and on-demand coworking services, which is where our relationship with Flexspace comes to life.