January 17, 2014
rosemary published this at 5:53 am
By Miles Young
Working remotely is both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, it gives employees more freedom, reduces absenteeism, and lowers employer overhead. However, it creates communication challenges, causes a lack of team bonding, and lowers productivity in some cases. If youíre thinking about adding remote workers to your business, or if you already have a handful, here are some tips to keep them engaged and profitable for your business.
Hire the Right People to Work Remotely
First, make sure you hire people who will excel in a remote position. Working from home doesn’t work for everybody, and you need to be able to assess if a person is capable of staying engaged with your business in this type of position. To do this, look for people who are self-starters, computer savvy, and who donít have distractions at home.
Some people think they can watch their young children and work from home at the same time. In most cases, this isn’t a healthy situation for your business unless the employees are compensated based on deliverables. When hiring remote employees, make sure you emphasize that watching children at home isn’t a possibility because you expect them to do the same quality and quantity of work you would if they were working from an office with direct supervision. Additionally, you can require remote employees to have a dedicated office space in their home to minimize distractions.
Hold Face-to-Face Trainings and Orientations
Once you’ve hired remote workers, itís important to quickly establish a strong relationship between employee and supervisor. This is critical to the success of a business, because the supervisor acts as a motivator and a role model. Without this relationship, remote workers can get lost or confused and not know how to engage with your business. Itís easiest to establish this relationship in person. Therefore, hold face-to-face trainings and orientations, when possible.
If your business cannot afford to hold in-person trainings, a video conference call is the next best thing. Remote employers will have an easier time establishing trust and a good relationship with their supervisor if they can attach a face to a name and converse naturally.
Do Frequent Performance Reviews
Traditionally, businesses hold semi-annual reviews for employees. Remote workers need more frequent reviews to keep them motivated and on task since they donít have the daily interaction provided in an office setting. Performance reviews are a good way to measure the productivity of remote workers and keep them accountable. As a remote worker, itís easy to slack off without the proper supervision and review cycle, especially in positions where it’s more difficult to measure productivity, such as customer service positions.
On the other hand, burnout can be a problem for some remote workers. This is partially because supervisors cannot directly see how much work and effort their remote workers are putting in on a daily basis. Plus, it is hard to separate work life from home life in a remote position, leading some people to feel like they are constantly working.
During performance reviews with remote workers, ask how they’re doing and if they need anything. Make sure that your remote workers have a workload that is neither too much nor too little. This will help remote workers stay engaged and profitable for your business.
Conduct Meetings Over Video Conference Instead of on the Phone
Video conferencing is the best way to hold meetings with remote workers, because it provides face-to-face interaction and helps everyone feel more involved. Meetings over the phone cause many remote workers to become disengaged, especially when there are a lot of people on the phone. Video conferencing requires remote workers to be alert because they know they’re being watched by everyone else in the meeting.
With the technology available today, it is easy for businesses to implement video conferencing. There are several companies, such as GoToMeeting, that help facilitate video conferencing for businesses. Additionally, large companies can spend money to create their own in-house conferencing systems that are more secure.
Use Multiple Channels of Communication
In addition to video conferencing, itís important to engage remote employees through multiple channels of communication. This should involve frequent phone calls, emails, and instant messaging. Software that makes working collaboratively with others is also important. Remote workers need more regular communication than on-site employees to foster a sense of belonging.
Instant messaging is one of the best things a business can implement because it gives remote workers instant access to their supervisor and team mates. Remote workers can reach out with questions as if they were working in the same room. This eliminates the wait for people to return phone calls and answer emails, which increases productivity and employee engagement.
Recognize Remote Employers for Their Performance
Sometimes, remote workers do not feel valued for their work. This leads to lower productivity and engagement with your business. This is something that is hard for supervisors to recognize because of the lack of in-person communication. Therefore, you can promote remote worker engagement by giving recognition where it is due.
There are lots of things you can do to recognize remote workers. For instance, you can send gift cards to employees who exemplify an above-and-beyond attitude. Or, if you donít have a lot of money to spend on recognition gifts, you can order useful promotional gifts like custom pens and send them to your employees as a token of appreciation. Itís better to do something rather than nothing so that your remote workers feel valued and engaged. Having items with the company logo in their workspace will also help them feel like theyíre a part of the company and team.
Remote workers are on the rise in the U.S. According to CNN Money, work-at-home jobs have surged 41 percent in the past 10 years. If this is a trend youíre noticing in your business, you need to learn how to keep your remote workers engaged and profitable for your business.
What challenges have you faced with remote workers? Leave a comment below.