Four Ways to Empower and Engage Remote Workers
How many meetings do you have that involve at least one person on a conference call? These days, it’s not uncommon for entire teams to be working remotely. In fact, around a quarter of all employees in the United States claim to work remotely at least part of the time.
While there are a lot of benefits to remote work — increased job satisfaction, fewer sick days taken, and decreased overhead costs — there are also some substantial hurdles, as well. If you are managing remote teams, here are some tips to build solidarity with your coworkers.
Communication is the cornerstone of a thriving remote team. Being able to connect often, easily, and in a variety of ways will give people the chance to listen and feel heard. One way to effectively keep everyone in the loop is to initiate regular team meetings and check-ins. You can give a brief overview of the status of projects, help needed from others, or successes to celebrate. It’s a good time to encourage people to share specific appreciations for their coworkers, as well. Be sure to have transcripts made of these staff meetings so you can share these notes with your team, ensuring everyone stays informed. Keep it simple; instead of hiring a transcriber, look into a speech-to-text service, many of which boast rapid turnaround time and often for fewer than $0.10 a minute.
Remote employees often live with blurred lines between work life and home life. Some combat this by going to public coworking spaces to get that office feel. Some try to stay in a separate part of the house for work than living. Either way, remote employees have much more to lose if they don’t set and stick to boundaries. A successful business can have a few policies in place that proactively address these issues, like making sure no one feels pressured to answer emails outside of work hours or requiring employees to keep Skype open when they are on the clock. Helping your remote team manage healthy boundaries will reduce the risk of burnout and limit feelings of resentment or distrust, all important components of strong productivity.
Staying mindful of your remote employees can be challenging, especially if most of your team is onsite and only a few telecommute. However, one of the most common complaints of remote workers is loneliness — something your business will have to get creative about. Making remote employees feel included can be hard, but it’s definitely not impossible. Have your remote workers schedule one-on-one check-ins with each other. Set up themed group chats on topics like best time-saving tips, favorite apps, or multi-tasking combos that actually (surprisingly) work. Why does it matter? Because employees — even freelancers and contractors — feel more motivated about their work if they feel connected to their coworkers.
Open (Virtual) Door Policy
Managers and supervisors can have an open-door policy — or more like an open camera policy — during set times of the day. Remote employees, freelancers, and contractors know that they can connect face-to-face with a decision-maker during this window. It’s a way to encourage more real-time interactions related to projects and policies. More importantly, it opens the door for small talk, ways in which we get to know what makes each other tick. You may initially think of this as a waste of time, but try to think again. These moments boost productivity by giving your brain a break, a chance to recharge and reset, which studies show empowers workers to work more effectively, efficiently, and enthusiastically when they get back to their tasks.
Remote work is changing the way we do work — and work together — and it’s only going to increase. Since 2005, telecommuting grew 140 percent, and the growth shows no signs of stopping. Creating a welcoming and empowering culture for freelancers, contractors, and remote employees now will set your business up for a fruitful, successful future.