Today’s business culture is becoming more open to remote work environments, as a growing number of employees are spending less time commuting to their office jobs and more time completing work in the comfort of their homes. According to the latest from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. Furthermore, 80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part-time. Thanks to the rise in technology, it’s easier now for employees to keep in touch and complete their work away from the office.
In return, this flexibility that remote works brings can help employees create a better work/life balance, give more autonomy in their individual work system and help companies keep a high retention rate. But one issue still remains: how can managers do their jobs and engage a team or workforce that is mostly outside of the office? Below are four tips to keep in mind when it comes to motivating your remote workforce.
The overall success and productivity of any remote team depends upon the strength of communication and collaboration channels. Remote teams that lack in communication leads to frustrated workers and poor work being produced. Make sure your team not only develops strong communication channels, but takes advantage of the many tools that helps with remote collaboration. From Basecamp to Google Docs, there are many product management and collaboration tools that can help keep everyone on the same page as well as offer timely feedback.
Jana McDonough, a publicist at Maracaibo Media Group explains, “It’s really important for employers to communicate and keep all employees involved in what’s going on day to day. Some of our team’s best work is when we all get on a call to discuss each client’s projects, and everyone’s thoughts are put on the table.”
In addition, having established collaboration channels also means making occasional face time with your coworkers and managers. Schedule check-ins every so often so employees have a sense of value on the team. These don’t have to come in the form of schedule meetings, but depending on the job, make sure the face time is beneficial for both parities.
2. Make recognition a priority
True with any engagement strategy, it’s important to recognize and appreciate employees for their hard work. With remote employees, employee recognition ideas can range from a simple handwritten thank you note to e-buttons and shout-outs during conference calls. It’s important not to lose sight of recognition just because employees are no longer in the office.
For instance, David Sturt, Executive Vice President at O.C. Tanner, and Todd Nordstrom, Director of Institute Content at O.C. Tanner, explain, “It’s important to remind ourselves and those around us about the differences we do make–and recognize the efforts and achievements often. Do you remember the ideas, the passion, and the world-conquering attitude you had when you joined the company? Revive it in yourself and your teammates by cheering, recognizing, and appreciating the work that is being done.”
3. Trust employees with results only
A large part of employee engagement is managers implementing trust with their employees. Trust has to be present with remote workers and one of the best ways to build a trusting relationship is to focus on the results they produce. For instance, the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) system give employees the flexibility and accountability to accomplish the work with the underlying employee agreement, “no results–no job.” With measurable outcomes, it can eliminate boundaries and instead, instill trust while keeping employees engaged and responsible in the work.
4. Encourage a team culture
Lastly, work to build a unique culture with your remote team. Develop common values, ways of working, and communication and recognition systems to help keep engagement levels high. Furthermore, as a team, aim for two offline meetings a year and work on getting to know each other better and developing social capital. When teams develop a unique culture, the more motivated they become and engaged with the work.
Just because your employees are out of the office, they shouldn’t be out of mind. Work to boost engagement and teamwork by keeping communication open and clear, recognizing great work, implementing trust and encouraging a unique team culture.