Remote work offers employees various benefits to commuting to the office daily. We are living in a time where flexibility in our work schedules is continually rated as a high priority among workers, especially among the Millennial generation and younger workers. Last year, Toyota released plans to extend remote work to nearly 1/3rd of its workers with the goal of retaining their skilled workers who also want the flexibility of staying home to care for young children and elderly parents. A recent report from US News indicates that remote work has become the norm for large and small businesses alike.
Remote work is beneficial to employers too, as it can help reduce costs associated with renting work spaces and reimbursements for mileage. It also helps keep employees happy and engaged, which benefits both the employee and employer for the long term.
There are obviously some challenges faced when managing workers who work from home. Because these employees work from home and are not in the trenches of the office with others coworkers, maintaining a level of engagement and collaboration among the remote bunch is especially important.
4 Steps to Engagement
Tools for Success
Because remote employees won’t have the luxuries of the office (multi-function printer, anyone?), it is crucial that they at least have all the tools needed to be successful at home. This includes the basics: computer, internet, phone, all necessary login info and access to company documents, programs, and databases needed to perform the job efficiently and with ease.
Employers would expect to provide their on-site employees with the appropriate tools to be successful in the office, so the same should go for remote workers.
Same Page = Big Picture
It is important that an employee’s vision aligns with both other co-workers to some degree and with management’s future vision for the company, whether remotely or on-site. Even more important for remote workers though, is that feeling that everyone is on the same page working toward that bigger picture outcome.
Since remote workers aren’t always involved in the day-to-day happenings within the office, it’s necessary to ensure that everyone is walking the same path to the top and that the vision, overall goals, and daily objectives are regularly referenced.
Check-ins are important in any business, and the same goes for both on-site and remote workers. The benefit to constant communication has to do with relationship and team building. One source cites that since remote workers often miss out on frequent team-building events or “watercooler talk,” regular check-ins and in-person meetings help to thwart some of that distance that remote workers may experience.
Check-ins tend to encourage employees to stay focused, on track and serve to clarify performance expectations. For remote workers, regular check-ins can serve this same purpose in keeping them engaged as it would if they were in the office every day. Frequent touches are a good tool to staying connected with your team and allowing open lines of communication on either end.
Fortunately, with all the different apps and programs available, staying connected is easier than ever. Utilize tools like Google Hangout, Slack, Flock, Crew, Basecamp, and Hipchat, to name way too many.
Praise and Encouragement
The importance of praise and encouragement and its value in the workplace cannot be stressed enough and this goes for both on-site and remote employees. While the inherent value of praise is obvious, the significance of encouraging words allows a remote worker to still feel connected to the team without that close proximity that on-site workers have.
Praise and encouragement also fosters an environment of collaboration and appreciation, which likely align with and serve to reinforce company core values.
Finding quality talent is a top priority for businesses and HR leaders alike. By opening up to the possibility of flex scheduling or remote workers, companies can greatly expand their talent network. Although there are some challenges in doing so, with the right tools and planning in order, businesses can make it work to their advantage.