When it comes to work, people always whinge about the company atmosphere, the pressure, the annoying nosey boss and, not to mention, the time taken to travel every day! However, if given a chance, who wouldn’t want to sit in the comforts of their houses with a hot mug of coffee and eventually calculate tax returns?
These days, remote working (work from home as we commonly say) has become a rage. It's easy to point out why this flexible work option has been gaining popularity. On one hand, having a virtual workspace can actually help attract top talent with no geographic limits, cutting down on majority of the office expenses. On the other hand, getting distributed teams to work together seamlessly requires patience, effort, and dedication.
While it’s a boon for workers, it’s literally a pain for the employers. Virtually engaging employees and bringing out their best can be hard at times. Here are a few important key points you need to keep in mind if you’re dealing with such a scenario:
Keep the lines of communication open
There's no question that remote working has accounted for more flexibility and efficiency within organisations, but the trade-off is at the cost of losing valuable face-time with the employees. You may be able to video chat with the employeee very day, but he or she still misses out on the day-to-day work culture, which can play a large role in an employee’s growth.
The most defining factor that binds all your employees together is communication. Also make sure that your team shares non-work-related communications too. These interactions will create a lighter atmosphere and they will start to think of each other as friends who happen to work together.
Companies like Basecamp, Buffer, and Zapier have worked hard to perfect the art of managing a distributed team. They’ve written about their processes and learnings openly online and in books.
Create a real and concrete plan
Long-term motivation comes from loyal and committed team members, who are hard to find. You need to invest in them in order to reap results. Begin to unearth your employees’ goals, their strengths and weakness, their future plans and their biggest dreams. Soon, you’ll be sure to give them work that would not only tap their potentials, but also keep them happy!
"If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it'll spend its whole life believing that it is stupid,” says Albert Einstein.
Remote employees often need to feel included, as if they are part of a real team. Set up team-based goals and competitions to help them build a sense of collaboration and co-operation.
Managing remote employees comes with a set of unique challenges, and overcoming them has to become a top priority. Interactions should happen every day, a monthly video conference is to be organised and a quarterly event or annual company celebration becomes a must.
Even with things as simple as bonuses or benefits, communicating with employees about their individual experience in a personalised manner will really stand out. Remember that transparency is key to developing a strong employee engagement, in or out of the office.
The consistency quotient
A study from MIT's Human Dynamics Laboratory shows that when it comes to predicting the success of a great team, the most important element is how well the team communicates during informal meetings. The team’s consistency is directly proportional to the company’s output.
With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we've found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team's success.
When you're not able to physically see your employees every day, it can be very difficult to keep a track of their work. While some of the mobile workers are self-motivated and work better in a non-office environment, majority of them take advantage of the fact that there's no one overlooking their progress.
Hence, it is essential to keep a track of the ongoing updates. Set up channels and establish core hours of work for the team. Create guidelines and rule to have them understand the metrics of your business. Go beyond the mail and develop an interactive team intranet!
Trust your employees
Remote work gets hampered when you can't trust the person on the other end of the line. If you continually find yourself worrying about if he/she’s doing the right thing, then you are simply spending brain cycles focusing on everything but the main product. Trust is key.A mutual sense of trust flows only after setting clear expectations and then holding each one accountable for meeting those objectives. Understanding the quality of the work that is expected and when it is due, is the most important factor.
According to a study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of workers telecommuting increased by nearly 80 per cent between 2005 and 2012, and that’s excluding the 2.8 million self-employed people who consider home their primary place of work.
Successful virtual offices are a series of practices, processes, technologies and, most importantly, constant collaboration between the employer and the employee. With just a few tweaks, you can eventually create your more sustainable team. It just needs the right amount of co-ordination and strategic planning.