One of the biggest trends that HR teams are dealing with is the rise of the remote workforce. A forecast of employment trends by the World Economic Forum called flexible work, including virtual teams, “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, and a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.
So, what steps can you take to create a working environment that helps everyone reach their full potential, no matter which time zone they happen to be working in?
1) Schedule based on peak performance: Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, notes that for most people, tasks that require peak performance are best completed in the morning, administrative and less demanding tasks are best left for the midday dip, and brainstorming tasks should be left for the afternoon. Are your managers scheduling projects for their remote employees based on the nature of the task?
2) Communicate constantly: Successful remote startups maximize efficiency by putting into place communication and collaboration guidelines that keep everyone on the same page. Some managers send an email or video every Monday that highlights how different remote team members have demonstrated the company’s core values. The key is to constantly remind your far away team members that they’re an important part of the team and company.
3) Encourage professional growth: Another idea for you to consider is setting aside one day a month for your remote workers to focus on developing new skills. After all, 87% of millennials rate professional growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job, and 69% of non-millennials agree. The mindset today, regardless of age, is that a job is much more than earning a nice paycheck – it’s a lifestyle choice.
4) Give power to your people: Autonomous teams help team members feel more empowered, happy, and can even increase productivity. One company that has created a successful autonomous work environment is the music streaming service Spotify, which has 2,000 employees grouped into self-organizing agile teams called squads. Your company’s remote workers are more likely to succeed in a culture that encourages autonomy: one that gives them the opportunity to get better at what they do, and makes them feel that they’re doing something that matters.
5) Tool time: Remote work is possible because of the digital transformation taking place in our working world. There are nearly endless remote collaboration options to choose from. For your remote team to reach its full potential, you and your managers will have to do some experimenting to see what combination works best. Telepresence robots, chat apps, video conference, and other unified communication channels are amazing, but the tools you use should also help strengthen the culture you’re trying to create – both on site and off.
6) Who’s guiding this ship? Autonomy’s important, but it doesn’t mean working without supervision or collaborators. Alongside autonomy within the system, remote team leaders need to establish clear performance benchmarks, boundaries and guidelines for success. An effective manager is one who’s always available to give advice and listen to a team member’s questions and concerns, without micromanaging the team.
Tap into your people’s desire for a better life
Remote work is here to stay. According to Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” survey, more than one-third of respondents said they’d change jobs to be able to work remotely some of the time. And younger people just joining the workforce already expect to work in a place that offers flexibility. So the unavoidable question is: has your company taken the right steps to facilitate a successful environment for your remote team members?