In our modern age, technology has turned the traditional work environment on its head.
The invention of email and online work management tools make it easy for team members to work from almost anywhere. And as more companies go international, teams are now scattered across the globe.
According to a report from WorkAtWork, upwards of 17.2 million U.S. employees were telecommuting at least one day a week in 2008. Undoubtedly that number has grown substantially since then.
Working from home certainly offers numerous perks — it’s often hailed as a silver bullet for improving work-life balance. But sometimes a lack of face time can result in remote employees losing focus. When face-to-face meetings shape the typical employee’s workday, remote employees missing out can feel distant and become disengaged.
How can managers prevent the lack of engagement? Here’s a few simple ways to keep telecommuting employees productive.
Go Beyond Email
Remote employees don’t have to feel disconnected, particularly if the lines of communication are kept strong and open. That means managers need to move beyond just sending check-in emails every so often to telecommuters.
One way to achieve this is to schedule regular calls or chats to track a remote employee’s progress on a particular project and ensure they have everything they need to ensure success. This could be through phone calls, video conferencing or even Facetime — whatever works to keep the communication flowing.
Being able to consistently collaborate with colleagues is another way to maintain regular communication. Using workflow management software such as Leankor, social collaboration software and/or chat clients can help keep remote workers plugged into projects, what other team members are up to and the company culture as a whole.
Take the time to build a relationship with a remote employee just as you would with an on-site employee.
Keeping them in the loop regarding corporate events and news so they don’t feel forgotten.
Cultivating a relationship between manager and team members also include team-building exercises with their colleagues (yes, you can even do online teambuilding in the age of the Internet) and even simpler things such as remembering their birthday. These small gestures can make them feel included, and more importantly, like a real part of the team.
Professionally, TIME magazine’s employment experts recommend a remote worker’s “aspirations, strengths, developments needs” and learning style to really keep them engaged and productive.
This is a good practice to institute with any employees, remote or on site.
Recognition is a powerful motivator when it comes to keeping any team members engaged, particularly when they’re remote teams.
So take the time to highlight accomplishments within the larger group, and do your best to ensure team members know how each is contributing to the success of a project. Just because on-site workers don’t literally work alongside remote employees doesn’t mean they should be kept in the dark about how telecommuters are helping everyone reach their goals.