No doubt about it: we’re right in the middle of what’s being called the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution.’ In this time of rapid change and increasing automation, mobile workers will “play more of a key role than people realize,” according to Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork and co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Gender, Education and Work.
With 43% of people saying that they work remotely at least some of the time, HR professionals have a major challenge on their hands: keeping off-site workers engaged and productive. Here are some tips to ensure that your far away teams stay connected to your organization.
Communicate better with fewer communication tools: The list of team collaboration tools continues to grow. Using Slack, Trello, Skype, Wrike and Google Hangouts – to name just five – together can actually lead to a communications breakdown. Picking a couple of primary methods of communication and sticking with them will solve a big problem with corporate telecommunicating. “The issue with having so many ways to disseminate information internally is that you spend far too much time chasing messages, versus getting work done,” says Sean-Patrick Hillman, CEO of HILLSTORY Marketing.
Virtual workers are people too: An employer who understands a remote team member’s strengths, weaknesses, concerns, and professional aspirations is more likely to build a strong relationship with that person. And remote employees will be more committed to an organization if they feel they are cared about as people, not just workers. This is why things like virtual get-togethers for non-work related chats are so important. “At work, there’s always something stressful to discuss. But you don’t want every conversation to feel tense and dreaded. Make time for work outings or celebratory video calls,” says Rachel Jay, senior career writer at FlexJobs.
Track automatically: The Harvard Business Review found that untracked work hours cost the US economy up to 7.4 billion dollars per day. Many team leaders rely on remote workers’ self-reported data to measure time worked and effectiveness. This approach is outdated, and the results that are reported are often inaccurate. The best way to get an accurate picture of how your off-site workers are doing is to find an application that can automatically track the time spent on each task. Then, it’s important to build a culture of monitoring. Remote team leaders can take the lead by sharing their time sheets and activity levels with their team members. Sharing timesheets can help remote workers benchmark their performance, efficiency, and productivity against all other members of your organization. And this can help remote teams improve their daily work habits.
Recognize greatness: Remote workers don’t always get the recognition they deserve. But organizations that ignore their people’s contributions are in serious danger of losing them. One study found that 40% of employees say that they are ignored, and are actively disengaged from their work. Your organization should not only recognize your remote workers’ accomplishments but should do so loudly and proudly. Today’s communication and collaboration tools make it easy to call out a remote team member’s big win on all company channels. And doing so will motivate the rest of your remote workers to take their game up a notch.
A survey of almost 3,500 employees found that 45% of remote workers love their jobs. The survey also showed that virtual employees are actually more ambitious than on-site workers. But, remote workers also need to be self-motivated more than their colleagues back in the office. To achieve their full potential, remote workers need to be kept engaged by their team leaders and organization. Sure, not having the ability to engage in face-to-face conversations in the break room, cubicle or office makes it more difficult to stay connected. But not taking the time and steps required to keep your remote workers engaged can lead to they’re feeling isolated. Ultimately, this detachment will reduce a mobile worker’s passion for your organization’s vision and goals.