Remote working is here to stay. It’s the wave of the future, with some 19.2 million people expected to work remotely by next year.
Virtual tools make it easier for bosses and their team to connect regularly. They’ve opened the doors for remote working to become a new way to find good talent without spending on a physical office, furniture, a wired network, equipment, and other expenses.
Thirty-one percent of respondents to a recent global survey by social media management service Buffer said that they belong to fully remote companies, while 40% said that their companies are divided into in-office and remote staff.
In the US alone, almost 2/3 of American firms have so-called virtual workers. Some 3.9 million people did remote work at least half of 2018, 115% higher than remote working hours recorded in 2005.
What Do People Love the Most about Remote Work?
It offers people a more flexible lifestyle.
Not being confined to a particular place away from home for a set number of hours gives workers more time for other priorities: children, sick relatives, aging parents, or friends and other guests.
Working remotely also allows workers to pursue other interests, such as higher education, travel, or being actively involved in a sport.
It helps workers reduce expenses.
Part of income goes to daily expenses related to reaching the workplace and staying there until the day is done. Remote workers don’t have to spend on gas, toll, parking, morning coffee, lunch, clothes, shoes, and the like.
It is less stressful than an office-based job.
Remote working lets workers skip commuting to work, reducing the physical and emotional stress felt from time spent driving or riding public transport, especially on days when weather is bad.
Employees working remotely also don’t have to constantly plan and prepare for the following days’ wardrobe. For women, this also means not having to wake up early to put makeup on.
It renews their passion and encourages productivity.
Remote workers can create their own workspace where they can manage distractions, including office gossip, and be more focused. Studies show that open floor plans, used in 70% of American companies, are found to be distracting and therefore lower productivity.
A number of individuals also see remote working as a reward for excellent work. They become motivated to surpass their goals to continue living this kind of lifestyle.
Happier employees translate to lower absenteeism and lower cost of turnover. The State and Work Productivity Report says that two-thirds of managers saw an increase in overall productivity from their remote employees.
Engaging Effectively with Remote Employees
What ensures a good relationship with our remote staff? Whether we are working with 10 or 100 employees, personal connection and team collaboration will bring out the best of our remote human resources.
Have a good onboarding system.
For starters, new employees must be taken through an onboarding process or an orientation of their job expectations, work environment, and colleagues. Ensure that employees have all the tools they need for work.
Introduce them to the team, their functions, and how they can contact each other through instant messaging, email, phone, etc.
Developing an effective onboarding system is part of building a good name that can attract and retain good talent.
Stay in touch.
There are many virtual communication options available, from Skype, Yammer, Slack, and Google Hangouts to Microsoft OneNote, SharePoint and OneDrive. You may try FaceTime or Skype for quick one-to-one calls and Google Hangouts or Zoom for team meetings.
We must agree on remote workers’ daily tasks and set up channels to report or catch up with each other. Clarify expectations by showing examples when necessary.
We can employ online project management or task management tools to establish details of deliverables as well as deadlines.
Make remote workers feel they belong.
Loneliness was the problem of 21% of remote workers surveyed in 2018. It ranked equally with communication and collaboration problems, followed by distractions at home at 16%.
Employers and managers must be able to fill the need of remote employees to feel a professional connection to their organization. We should be responsive and make ourselves available.
Company updates can be made available on an online bulletin board while meetings can be set up regularly from daily to every quarter.
We can organize virtual teambuilding activities to help strengthen bonds within the team. We can also set up channels that remote workers can use to provide feedback.
Some companies, like firms in computer programming, may need to randomly partner employees each week so they can ask each other how things are going and possibly collaborate on a project.
Depending on the nature of the business, you can build employee trust by not micromanaging and trying to catch their employees away from their desk. However, it’s perfectly okay to be responsive and accessible.
Managers must make their virtual employees feel comfortable in expressing their day-to-day challenges. During meetings where both on-site and off-site workers are invited, open the floor first to your remote staff for questions and opinions.
A tip for employers: self-directed individuals make the best remote workers. Hire people who are capable of building something from scratch and seeing it through. They can break up a project into chunks that can then be implemented individually.
Track time and projects depending on your work arrangements.
For jobs where salaries are based on the number of hours rendered, companies will need a time and attendance software to monitor their employees. Otherwise, project management software will be enough to determine what tasks need to get done, by whom and by what time or date.
Also keep your clock synced to your team’s time zones so you can better schedule tasks, meetings, group or individual communications, and so on.
Offer meaningful learning and growth opportunities.
Learning management systems can administer and deliver educational resources and training programs to remote workers anywhere and on any device.
We can introduce an employee engagement survey or a digital employee engagement tool to check the overall mood of remote staff.
Use the power of positive recognition by sending physical cards, letters, and packages, or giving unsolicited praise or mentorship to help employees feel noticed.
Encourage workers to set a routine and boundaries to avoid burnout.
There may be times when virtual workers need to be awake a little earlier or stay up an hour or so longer for an online team meeting or to finish work with a colleague in a different time zone.
But in general, remote workers should set routines so that they have internal signals about when their work should begin and wind down.
Although flexibility is one of the top benefits of remote working, it will become a disadvantage if they do not know their priorities or don’t keep their boundaries. It will take discipline to decide the hours for work and rest.
A healthy relationship with a virtual team is considered to be a more important priority over ensuring that these remote workers are managing their time wisely. Like in an office environment, employees who feel trusted concentrate more on accomplishing goals than just trying to look busy.