Technology has made working from home or on the move a more common occurrence than ever before. Gallup’s 2015 annual Work and Education poll showed that 37 percent of U.S. workers indicated they have worked from home, up almost 30 percent since 1995, and the trend for flexible working conditions is increasing.
So how are you going to engage your remote employees this year? With an increased number of companies providing flexible schedules and the ability for many employees to work remotely at least part of the time, it is important to have a plan to motivate, inform and engage remote employees to ensure success. Making them feel part of the team is a new management challenge.
I believe that there are three fundamental principles to ensure your success in keeping engagement levels high with your remote based employees. They are:
Mutual understanding: Remote employees and their managers need to work extra hard to safeguard their responsibilities, ensuring tasks and due dates for work or assignments are taken seriously and continuously met. Since these employees and their managers don’t have the chance encounters in the hallway, round the coffee machine or in the minutes after a meeting ends, it’s important to find alternative ways to have those check-ins. Managers also need to make themselves easily available for employees either by phone or Skype, to ask questions and maintain contact more often than just in planned meetings. It can be as simple as more emails or short phone calls, but it could make the difference between engagement and employee failure. A planned weekly Skype call should be considered as a minimum as a way to maintain face to face contact.
Trust: This may seem like a given, but trust is the most important part of having a remote workforce and engaging those employees. You can’t see them, you don’t know that they are at their desks all day and likewise, they may not know their manager cares about the extra hours they put in or their above and beyond performances on a certain project. Differences in time zones and working hours can compound this challenge. Additionally, tone can often get lost in our connected world, so doing a little extra to make sure your employees know you trust them to get their work done and to give their all to projects could be the difference between having an engaged, empowered remote group and having to look for a new team.
Recognition and reinforcement: Since communication structures are often different for remote teams, recognising exceptional behavior and reinforcing it among peers is critical. Mike Ryan, Senior Vice President at Madison Performance Group notes that creating a “democratic” or peer-to-peer recognition strategy can be even more engaging. It empowers employees not only to work hard, but to look out for others’ exceptional behaviour. Giving employees the power to recognise each other’s hard is empowering and engaging all on its own. It can be a unique engagement program component that brings a remote team together. Adding rewards to this type of program can also show that an employer is willing to invest not only time and effort but money into this type of recognition and engagement as well.
Operating remote workforces can enable you to scout the best talent and create work schedules and arrangements that work for both managers and employees.
However, remote teams can grow distant and it can be difficult for executives and managers to engage employees who aren’t in the office, or aren’t in the office all of the time. Use recognition, trust, and clear communication to engage remote employees. The benefits to your business could be enormous.
Brownie Points works with a large number of clients who operate remote staff, with employees in small and remote locations, on the road or working from home. With our cloud based platform and mobile App for smart phones and tablets, recognition and reward is made easy, consistent and transparent.
If you would like more information on how we can help you motivate and engage your remote staff, call the team today on 03 9909 7411 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org