How pulse surveys can help strengthen the remote teams

Kailash Ganesh
6 min read
Understanding the pulse of remote employees is essential for a leader to strengthen their team.

It has been a few months since the global work from home experiment started. Companies that had never envisioned remote work as an option are trying to rise to the occasion. Sectors like banking and logistics have gone to great lengths to sustain themselves under the current situation while they come up with a plan to handle the current situation.

This is perhaps the first time that most of the workforce is working from home. While remote working is a great opportunity, it also brings in some challenges. They are unique to remote working alone and require customized solutions for the problems.

Managing a remote team

Shweta starts her day at around 10:30 AM every day with her ritualistic cup of coffee as she scrolls through her inbox. After the morning stand-up meeting with her team, calls start pouring in. She tries to delegate tasks to her team while collaborating with other team leads and completing her designated tasks. Amidst these calls and shared screens, she loses almost thirteen hours of her day which leaves her to burn the midnight oil and finish her tasks before the start of the next day.

A major chunk of her time goes in explaining project limitations and negotiating deadlines. She realizes things are not the same anymore. Her team has been going through a lot too. Her team consists of a mom of a five-year-old, a son with aged parents, a newly married couple, and two single people who live on their own. Shweta understands that the challenges of each team member are unique and demands her attention and discretion because her team is her responsibility.

While she saves quite a few hours without the need to commute, delegating tasks were easier in a physical office. The interruptions and responsibilities of personal lives outweigh the saved time. The line between her professional and personal life has become blurry now. She knows it’s the same for all her teammates as well.

Earlier, it was easy for her to reach out to her teammates individually whenever she noticed they were disturbed. Body language played a great role in this case which online calls failed to address. The lunch hours and tea breaks helped them take a break. When they returned home after a hard day’s work, they could devote all their time to themselves and their friends and family. But now that seemed extremely difficult even though all of them stayed connected online.

Shweta’s experience taught her enough to tell her that her teammates were all quite edgy and overworked. When she asked them to address their complaints and problems directly to the management and HR, no one made any attempt to do so. As a team leader, she tried to voice her concerns for the team, but she was aware no real action would be taken until and unless they voiced their opinions.

That was one of the biggest challenges of working from home. While working out of their physical offices, the HRs could interact and study each employee’s behavior and improve their experience. This seemed to suffer now. The overall employee experience went downhill and Shweta feared some of them might quit their jobs if they could afford to so.

This brings us to a very common problem that every leader is facing currently — negative employee experience.

They realize something’s wrong but aren't too sure about what it is.

Proactiveness is now under the spotlight

Most HRs today fail to understand that their role from before COVID-19 needs to undergo tremendous change to suit the new role requirements. They cannot limit themselves to circulating memos and arranging events. They need to grow in their role and help management sustain the companies. Mere virtual translation of previous activities is not enough now. HRs need to upgrade and upskill themselves to enhance employee experience in their company.

The current situation demands that HRs be proactive in identifying stressors in their company culture. They need to pay extra attention to their employees now and help them align their goals to the company’s goals without overlooking or minimizing their comfort.

To identify these stressors and challenges, HRs need to rely on technology that empowers their workforce and helps them voice their concerns.

Reading the pulse of your remote teams

The key tool to gain insights into your workforce’s mindset is through pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are true to their name. They help HRs and leaders determine the pulse of their company. Pulse surveys are specifically designed to ask the right questions to employees and identify stressors and challenges impeding their growth.

Leaders need to read the pulse of their remote teams by asking them relevant questions.

The goal of any survey is to focus on employee engagement mainly through different drivers. The survey consists of 15 drivers that help give a comprehensive understanding of employee engagement and employee experience. These drivers include wellness, recognition, leadership, autonomy, work-life balance, management along with nine other drivers.

Employee pulse surveys are always beneficial to any company, especially in the case of remote teams. The need for pulse surveys to understand employees is a question that not just HRs, but any aspiring leader must ask themselves. Pulse surveys have been proved to improve employee engagement and the overall employee experience in the following ways:

  • Offering support in the right way

Employees face problems in their professional lives almost every other day. Sometimes, professional or personal lives can seep into each other's sphere and make things messy for the employee. This is not limited to particular employees but applies to every employee in a company.

The management needs to realize that they have a very important role to play in such scenarios because of two main reasons. First, an employee’s problems can often hamper their productivity and make them unhappy. Second, an employee’s problems can often influence those around her/him at the work physically or virtually.

Employee pulse surveys are helpful in this regard because they help HRs and the management to identify the problem(s) through the drivers and address them. Pulse surveys give the option to remote teams to fall back on the management for support and avoid making a problem worse.

  • Improving communication strategies

It is quite easy to misunderstand people even when they are communicating properly. Miscommunication is one of the biggest challenges in any team or company. Situations often escalate when the communication takes place remotely. When two people are physically together, they study each other’s body language and other subtle nuances and this often helps people understand each other in a better way.

Achieving this level of clear communication becomes quite difficult when most or all members of a team are working remotely. Text messages and emails can be misinterpreted. To establish clear channels of communication, pulse surveys are quite effective. They help HRs and leaders understand where an employee faces a problem or the main problem area within a team. Pulse surveys pave the path to establishing the right communication strategies within a team and improve employee engagement significantly.

  • Bridging the gap between team leaders and members

In large companies, gaps often emerge between the employees situated at different levels. Those at higher levels rarely know the problems of those at the lower or middle levels. In the case of remote teams especially, the distance can often make things worse. The physical distance could lead to emotional differences or distance within the same company.

Pulse surveys help leaders to listen to their remote team members frequently, thereby bridging the gap.

Employee pulse surveys, however, dissect all challenges and hurdles and document them right from the moment the survey is sent until the anonymous feedback is implemented in real-time. The pulse surveys help the leaders understand the problems that they might not experience at their level but are common to those who are at a similar level.

Pulse surveys bring leaders closer to the people who make things work at a company. These surveys never let the leaders overlook the things that matter, thus, improving company culture and of course increasing employee engagement.

What employee pulse surveys for remote teams entails

Pulse surveys for remote teams must be designed extra carefully. The challenges that remote teams face aren’t the same as those working together out of the same physical offices. Although all 15 drivers are important to measure employee engagement and employee experience, there are a few drivers that require special attention in the case of remote work. When it comes to working from home, or from anywhere outside a physical office, the pulse surveys must look into the following drivers:

  • Communication
  • Purpose alignment
  • Involvement
  • Growth and development

Employee pulse surveys are the best tools that a company can use to enhance their company culture which would lead to an improved employee experience. An employee engagement platform such as CultureMonkey, has designed pulse surveys to help any company not just sustain, but increase employee engagement and develop a better company culture.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.