Remote work can set your business free, pushing it into a new age of versatility and agility, or it can bring the wheels of productivity crunching to a halt. The key to success lies in good management and keeping your team both engaged and connected.
In fact, more Australians are working from home than ever before. For most people, however, this is not a case of simply exchanging the office for the sofa. Instead, the top reason for remote work is to catch up on unfinished tasks left over from the standard working day. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the percentage of the entire labour force who work from home has risen from 20% to 30% in only 15 years.
So the remote workforce is here to stay - something employers will have to get used to. In this increasingly diverse landscape, attracting the best talent, skills and experience means hiring outside of your standard office locations. Fostering a strong culture of positivity within these physical locations is one thing, but extending this beyond these walls can be tricky.
We have compiled a list of five key tactics designed to keep your telecommuting workforce connected and engaged. These best practices are the perfect antidote to the 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality too often deployed with a remote workforce, and can be implemented right away with great effect.
Support remote work with virtual communication technologies
Modern technology affords employers ample scope for keeping remote workers connected. Make sure that all your employees are kitted out with everything they need, both to complete their tasks and report back and stay connected.
Problems begin to arise when workers feel as if they are disconnected from the rest of the team; as if they are not part of the wider workforce. Regular instant messaging and web or video conferencing act to combat this problem and to bring telecommuting workers closer into the fold, as well as to facilitate effective collaboration between in-house teams and those working remotely.
Use social media to build the community
Social media has proved highly effective in creating a strong sense of community across shared virtual spaces. Employers can use this to their advantage as they seek to boost engagement and promote a healthy atmosphere across remote teams.
By using a mixture of established social networking sites, in-house communities and virtual forums, employers can help to establish creative venues for feedback and recognition. This means that wherever your telecommuting team members are, staying connected isn't difficult.
Develop a mentoring program for teleworkers
We have touched on the idea of disconnection already, but this is a serious problem for remote workers and for the companies who employ them. Pairing remote workers with in-house mentors gives remote workers a direct access point to the inner workings of the business, nurturing vital connections.
This means that remote workers can ask any questions that may arise as they work and take advantage of all the resources your company can offer to its staff. A more connected and engaged remote workforce is achieved this way.
Host virtual or in-person social events
Too many remote workers feel that they are left out from the social aspects of working for a company. However, this need not be the case. Where possible, invite remote workers to join in social events throughout the working year, reinforcing the fact that they are valuable members of the wider team.
Virtual events can also be deployed for when actual social events are simply not possible. These could include online games that will help team members get to know each other better - just make sure that everybody has their webcam on so they can all see each other. By deploying both virtual and in-person social meetings and gatherings, a harmonious atmosphere of collaboration and social togetherness is fostered.
Deliver frequent constructive feedback
This last tactic is arguably the easiest to implement but is no less valuable to the morale of remote workers and to the performance of your company as a whole. By delivering frequent constructive feedback to your remote team members, employers can consistently let these members know that their work is valued and appreciated.
The added advantage here is that potential problems can be met head-on and dealt with before they get out of hand. It all comes down to positive, virtual communication.
Here at Express Virtual Meetings, we have wide-ranging experience in conducting high-quality, highly effective virtual communication. Get in touch and let us help you put this expertise into practice within your organisation.