Businesses across the globe are adopting newer ways of working. Advancements in technology and the evolution of employee preferences have expanded the definition of ‘work’ beyond a fixed routine and a set schedule. Remote work has become a global phenomenon. A growing number of organizations are now giving remote work arrangements a try.
Remote workers are not usually confined to a specific office. They can accomplish their tasks despite being away from a company’s location. They may live in different cities, states, or countries. Even mobile workers who travel to different places, such as field technicians, construction workers or mobile healthcare providers, can be considered part of this category. The main aspect differentiating remote workers from other employees is their distance from the office.
A study released by Zug found that 70 percent of professionals work remotely. Zug defines this as telecommuting at least one day a week. 53 percent of those surveyed worked remotely for at least half the week.
The benefits of remote work include flexible hours, a better work-life balance, comfort zone, retaining more talented employees, lower costs to employers, no commuting, no politics or gossip, improved productivity, and more that add up to yield a greater outcome. But every coin has two sides. As compelling as these benefits seem, there are significant challenges to successfully implementing remote working arrangements. A remote worker may feel lonely, it may be difficult to track his progress, it can create weaker team bonds, and there often exists a level of discontentment.
In another survey, 43 percent of employees cited a flexible schedule as the biggest advantage of remote work. On the other hand, a majority of respondents said that loneliness (21 percent) and collaboration (21 percent) were challenging when working remotely.
A manager’s foremost duty is to ensure that their team is connected and coordinated. Anyone managing a team of remote and regular employees must be able to tackle the aforementioned issues. A business must also adhere to certain rules and policies to successfully manage remote workers. A well-defined strategy and consistent practices can help companies establish a successful remote-working culture. Here are five key ways to achieve this:
1. Professional to personal communication
An organization and its remote workers share an obvious professional connection. It’s important to establish harmonious relations, not only at the professional level but at a personal level as well. This will make remote employees feel better about their association with your company. You should keep tabs on what they’re up to, how they’re doing and in what situations are they working.
Develop an understanding of your remote employees. As vital as it is to know their work status, it’s also important to understand their personal lives. Make sure to keep all communication lines open. Allow them to seek help whenever they’re stuck. Effective communication comes above all other factors when managing remote workers. Inculcate a habit in your remote workforce of sharing their personal developments along with daily reports, issues, roadblocks, and task updates.
2. Rewards and resources to the rescue
Companies can sometimes overlook the contribution of their remote workers. Ignoring them because they aren’t physically present can lead to disappointment on the employee’s behalf. A manager should make an effort to reward their remote employees’ hard work. Other team members should also be aware of how remote workers contribute to achieving the company’s goals. This helps build trust and camaraderie.
Employers should also recognise their remote employees’ resource needs. Your HR staff may take care of your regular office team’s supplies, but remote employees may not get the right resources to do the job. Managers should make sure to send the proper supplies, like stationery, hardware, software, or expense reimbursements, to their remote team to enhance their productivity. It will help them feel connected and well-equipped so they can execute their work in the best way. Offering to reimburse or pay for them to rent a co-working space can also be a viable approach.
3. Employee engagement and equality
One of the most crucial factors for business success is employee engagement. Not being at the office can makes remote employees feel disconnected. They can’t chat with coworkers over lunch or coffee breaks, and they can’t participate in office celebrations. It thus becomes a manager’s foremost duty to address these engagement concerns and to foster a culture where remote employees are part of the company’s every aspect.
Businesses should give equal importance to their remote workers. Set the same level as their regular counterparts. Give them equal opportunities for growth. Engage them with open-ended questions and timely feedback. They should feel like they’re working next door rather than many miles away. Focus on inclusiveness by regularly using emails, messenger apps, social media, calls, and team conversations. Engaged remote workers will put their best foot forward, and their engagement will also boost team spirit.
4. Let technology take over
Technology is the driving force behind the remote-working culture. Companies have accepted this trend because technology now offers foolproof methods to track work, measure performance, and collaborate regardless of any geographical boundaries. But a business must employ the right tools to make it easier for remote workers to share their work and exchange data.
There are numerous software options available to coordinate with remote workers. Some widely-used applications include Slack, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, Skype, Trello, Dropbox, Google G Suite, Mobile Worker, and LiveBoard. These applications aid and improve collaboration between managers and remote workers. Such applications can be used for file sharing, videoconferencing, project management, real-time monitoring, chat, and sharing project updates. Technology is certainly handy for managing remote teams and yielding maximum productivity and engagement.
5. Face-to-face contact is important
We live in the era of FaceTime and Hangouts, and such applications have made the world a global village. Still, there is always a special place for face-to-face meetings, which can help employers better connect with their remote employees. Many remote workers feel like they’re being left out. Though they’re connected with the company, they aren’t familiar with its people and their personalities.
To overcome these challenges, a company must consider organising annual conferences to bring together their entire workforce. Even small informal get-togethers, ceremonies, or celebrations, like a family day or an office expedition, can be good ideas. These offer great opportunities for team members to get know each other, exchange their thoughts, and support each other’s progress. Such events should occur on a fairly regular basis.
The ABC rule - Acknowledgement, Bonding, Communication!
According to the 2018 State of Remote Work report, 90 percent of remote workers were happy to continue working remotely for the rest of their careers. It’s evident that remote working is here to stay. It offers employees an unprecedented degree of autonomy to accomplish their work. The increasing power of cloud technology will continue to reinforce remote working as millennial generation’s choice. Companies cannot afford to lose talent by sticking to the traditional cubicle culture. They must embrace remote working and welcome this change. Of course, it is necessary to come up with solutions to deal with the challenges.
Get off on the right foot by acknowledging your remote workers. Let them know that the company values them equally. Focus on building a strong bond and rapport between remote and on-site teams. Use technology to improve communication and collaboration. Let remote workers control their own schedules rather than micromanaging their time. And remember, these employees can be worth a fortune. Seek ways to grow your business with their support and performance.
Reboot to Remote!