Tips for Managing a Successful Remote Workforce
This is a guest post by Maddie Davis of Enlightened-Digital.com.
Connecting with one another is easier than ever in today's tech heavy world. As more jobs become centered around computer tasks, companies are adjusting their internal policies to work in favor of remote employees. To succeed in this modern trend, it’s important to have the right tech tools at your disposal. Here we’re highlighting how some of today's most innovative companies are setting their remote employees up for success.
One of the biggest struggles of remote work is keeping in touch with fellow employees. When you don’t have the option to walk up to a team member’s desk or chat in the kitchen, you want a fast and reliable alternative. Instant messaging apps, such as Slack, are excellent resources for remote and in-office employees alike. Messaging apps provide quick and easy connections between individuals or groups as they are accessible across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Unlike email which requires users to fish through threads to find past conversations, chats are all in one place, visible to everyone. Additionally, as in-office and remote employees often work different hours, notifications about new chats are customizable. This feature allows users to choose which alerts you want to receive and when you want to receive them.
Aside from business related conversations, it’s also incredibly important to keep lines of communication open for remote workers to express their personalities. Recognizing the difference a funny gif or picture of an employee’s new puppy can make in morale is essential in creating an enjoyable work environment.This sort of approach helps facilitate closer team relationships and make remote employees feel a sense of belonging.
While remote employees are typically tied to their computers, companies can help combat this monotony by organizing in-person events to connect remote and on-site workers. Once yearly company wide bonding trips are a great way to help foster company cohesion. If these aren’t within your means, organizing monthly meet-ups in the cities your remote workers are primarily based in can also help remote employees form relationships with their nearby colleagues.
Additional options for getting your remote employees out of their day-to-day and feeling connected to your company include creating a “buddy system”. Pairing workers based on common interests and encouraging them to spend time talking with one another can help reduce the sense of loneliness remote workers often feel. When employees can put a face and personality to the voices they work with, collaboration improves and reminds workers to value one another as people rather than resources.
Create a company newsletter
Keeping remote employees in the loop of company happenings can be easily overlooked. Generating a weekly or monthly company newsletter however can give everyone a refresher of what’s going on in the company while also having a little fun. Here are a few ideas to incorporate in your newsletter:
Employee achievements: Having a dedicated section to showcase remote and in-office employee achievements is an easy way to boost morale and make employees feel valued.
New hire announcements: A short bio and photo of new employees alerts remote workers of new team members when they don’t have the opportunity for in-person introductions.
Vote for company affairs: Whether it be a team bonding trip, holiday party, or snack ideas for the breakroom; providing an outlet for employees to contribute their opinion creates a sense of control and involvement, boosting overall satisfaction.
Remote employees can often feel disconnected from team members and management. Unfortunately, when employees are disengaged, productivity goes down and often nothing is done to fix the problem until it’s too late. Avoiding this issue is particularly important with remote employees so managers should want to keep them engaged and feeling just as much a part of the team as in-office workers. Regular check-ins, beyond just yearly reviews, are recommended for this reason.
Fortunately, digital solutions are available to help companies measure remote employee engagement on an ongoing basis. There are numerous available platforms today that provide managers the opportunity to keep track of individuals engagement through a continuous cycle of feedback between themselves and their employees. Opportunities for employee growth can also be identified through platforms like this. It’s easy for remote employees’ hard work to be looked over when they’re not in front of management. This allows their tasks and achievement to be readily available for manager’s review and feedback.
Meetings can be difficult for any employee to fully invest in. For remote workers, it’s especially difficult to stay engaged when you can’t see what’s going on or who’s talking. Screen sharing and video teleconferencing tools are essential for properly including remote employees in business discussions.
When discussing anything that includes visuals, it’s important to have everyone looking at the same screen. This is helpful for inter-office presentations as well as client facing documents. Giving remote employees a chance to see what their coworkers are seeing can help in creating a feeling that they're part of the discussion.
Speaker phones are suitable in some cases, but in others, it helps to work face to face. Video calling systems are an easy, useful feature that can help hold everyone accountable for truly being present in meetings and improve engagement. In fact 87% of remote workers feel more connected to their colleagues through the use of video conferencing.
Keeping large groups of employees engaged can be a struggle. Strategically using live polls can help combat disinterested employees by enabling them to share their views on a topic or provide feedback for updates and decisions made within a meeting. Depending on the poll you’re conducting you can even present the live results to add to the discussion.
As remote work becomes increasingly more common, new technology is being developed to better connect remote employees with their in-office coworkers. Virtual reality (VR) is serving as an excellent tool in improving collaboration as well as the onboarding processes.
VR enables users to share and view data in a visual format comparable to in-person interactions. Utilizing VR headsets, employees can be simultaneously viewing reports, making notes and highlighting important areas all in real-time, from anywhere in the world.
Training and onboarding processes can be difficult for both remote employees and administrators. VR technology gives new employees the opportunity to experience training tools in a life-like scenario, that otherwise wouldn’t be available to them.
As research continues to show the benefits of remote work, more and more companies will likely adapt this policy. Whether your company is already on board or just testing the waters, we hope this article helps you find success.