The number of employees working remotely is on the rise across the United States. In an article on remote.co, we found several compelling statistics that paint a really compelling argument for the remote workforce.
In 2015, 23% of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19% in 2003, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. A New York Times report also noted that telecommuting is fast on the rise.
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, while a Gallup poll found that 37% of respondents have already worked virtually.
According to a Gallup survey, the number of workers who work one day or less from home shrank from 34% to 25% between 2012 and 2016. In the same time period, the number of people working remotely four or five days a week rose from 24% to 31%. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely last year, up from 39% in 2012.
With remote work on the rise in the US and globally, it’s important to understand the “rules of engagement.” Here are five ways we see successful companies and their teams’ successfully engage a remote workforce.
1. Emphasize Efficient Communication
Perhaps the most important thing to do as a manager of remote workers is to ensure that there are effective, efficient and agreed upon methods of communication. The lack of physical presence can affect that natural collaboration that comes from being in proximity to your employees.
- Understand when employees will be working and how that can support or detract from communication, collaboration, and engagement on projects or initiatives.
- Determine what modes of communication work best and set some ground rules on how teams interact with and use the tools to keep things moving.
2. Acknowledge, Praise, and Reward Good Work
You may already know that intrinsic motivation can be more valuable than external, monetarily-driven perks. But are you putting it into practice regularly? Receiving acknowledgment and praise from a superior can go a long way and keep employees motivated well past the moment they receive a raise. Of course, that goes for in-office and remote employees, alike. But, for those working from home, it can be even more important to make sure their work ethic, effort, and accomplishments aren’t getting lost on deaf ears.
Make sure to give everybody updates about the team’s highlights and the contributions of the remote workers.
3. Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Part of working in an office is getting to see a project’s mechanism at work, or at least connect some of the moving parts. Did you know that even talking about an annoying customer over lunch can be constructive? Your colleagues can give you feedback, tips from their own experience, and reminders about what needs to be done. Remote workers miss all that, so you have to look for ways to compensate for the gap.
Remind your remote team about the general goals and expectations and make sure everyone gets them. Implement milestones and updates about the progress and be there when they need help.
4. Give them a Flexible Schedule
One of the most appealing Working from home gets a lot of its appeal from schedule flexibility. If you take that away from your remote workers, then you may interrupt the mechanisms that make them more productive than the office employees. If their job does not require being at the desk in a particular interval, give them the choice and means to organize their time between their personal chores and the work.
Remote work can also mean workers are not always “on-the-clock” at the same time.
Being at home is not necessarily easier regarding time management or working conditions. There are many distractions and temptations, so you do need to set certain limits. But, if an individual seems to prefer early morning for their work, give them that! And give them the freedom to switch to evening shift when needed.
5. Organize Get-Togethers & Community Service Activities
Even if employees are happy working from home and not having to deal with their colleagues face-to-face all the time, it is healthy to get the team to meet once in a while. If meeting them in person is not possible, simply organizing virtual get-togethers from time to time will make the team bond better. Just get lunch or a break and enjoy a casual conversation.
The bottom line is that when managing remote workers, you should keep in mind that there are specific ups and downs about being physically out of office. While they can get more efficient and productive than the office workers, they can also lose steam easily and need encouragement and inspiration from time to time.
- Schedule regular weekly check-ins
- Schedule regular team meetings. Keep a finger on the pulse of the team. There may be times when weekly meetings are necessary and other times of the year, it may be more productive for everyone to reduce it to monthly.
As the trend toward remote work increases, so does the need for companies to have software that is cloud-based, mobile and accessible to a distributed workforce. Jump over to our Customer Success stories to see how Schoox supports a global workforce with an intuitive, mobile learning management system the delivers on employee experience as well.