In a 2017 report by Gallup, we saw that the percentage of employees who work remotely in some capacity rose from 39% in 2012 to 43% in 2016. Further, 37% of respondents said that they would change jobs to one that allowed remote work at least some of the time.
And, the remote-work trend appears to be here to stay. According to research by Buffer and partners, surveying nearly 2,500 remote workers, 99% say that they would want to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers – and, 95% say they would encourage others to work remotely.
Of course, there is plenty that makes this work setup appear to be ‘the ideal’, and in many ways it is – remote workers tend to enjoy flexibility, autonomy, saved time, and a more balanced lifestyle. The below graph highlights some of the greatest benefits.
But, it’s not all as picture perfect as it seems – remote workers can easily find themselves in taxing situations that impact their work, their view of your company, and their personal wellbeing. They need to be able to plan well, remain connected, and need access to the right tools to perform their jobs most effectively. Here are some of the biggest challenges that survey respondents reported:
In another study, conducted by NetMotion, it became clear that remote workers are in need of better tech tools. The 285 remote workers who took part in this survey identified the following categories of frustration:
- Poor network connectivity
- Under-performing tools and software
- Slow and dated devices
- Restrictive security and compliance
- Collaboration and communication issues
And the importance of technology that delivers the same quality as an in-office experience shouldn’t be underestimated by organizations, when it comes to looking after the employee experience.
As per Human Resource Executive, Vice President of Human Resources for NetMotion, Christina Balam, says that “Having the right software, the right IT equipment and a really strong culture that values the individual experience is key. It’s far too easy to forget about the remote worker because you’re not seeing them every day.”
How then do you get around these challenges and ensure that even your remote workers remain engaged, motivated, and that they too are working towards your organization’s goals in a cohesive and productive manner?
Enhancing the remote worker experience with the right HR tools
To ensure that you get the best work out of your remote workers while supporting them and keeping them engaged, regardless of individuals’ locations, you’ll need to manage these employees with an effective remote-worker strategy in place, supported by modern HR tools.
1. Keep everyone on the same page, working collaboratively
To remain motivated and confident that they’re moving forward in the right direction, remote workers need to know what they need to achieve, by when, and what the objectives are. You can keep remote workers in the loop and ensure that they’re working collaboratively, and assigned the right tasks, without being overloaded, by using a workload forecasting and scheduling system. People can indicate how busy they are and forecast their upcoming availability to take on work.
Defining and communicating objectives, while important when in an office setting, is even more critical when employees are working remotely. It’s also important to set clear expectations and boundaries surrounding work hours, availability, meetings and the like.
2. Ensure that communication channels remain open
When employees are spread out across various locations, sometimes operating in different time zones, it’s imperative to keep communication channels open and to keep all team members in the loop with plans, developments, expectations, changes, and the like.
Aside from ensuring that your employees remain on the same page, working together collaboratively, from a productivity point of view, it’s important to do what you can to ensure that your remote workers don’t feel siloed. After all, working remotely does have the potential to make individuals feel lonely – or even forgotten.
Offering real-time feedback, which is easily achievable with a platform like ours, is a great way to encourage continuous communication and to keep everyone connected, and moving in the right direction.
3. Allow remote workers the space to be autonomous
Modern employees like to feel autonomous. While you might not always be sure what your remote workers are busy with, giving the impression that you’re constantly checking in on them will no doubt make them feel micro-managed. Essentially, remote working goes hand in hand with a decent level of trust.
This is why it’s important to hire the right people and ensure that they are well integrated into the fiber of your organization. These processes can be supported with technology like our applicant tracking system and our employee integration software. When employees feel like they’re a part of your company, they tend to be more motivated to contribute positively towards the organization’s growth.
Further to this, policies and procedures (or guidelines, at least) need to be given to your remote workers to ensure that they are well aware of their responsibilities, tasks, deadlines, and objectives. That way, they’ll be able to work with the autonomy that they crave, with clear knowledge of your expectations.
4. Be sure that your company culture is inclusive towards remote workers (to keep morale high!)
When working remotely, motivation levels can easily subside as we saw from the results of the Buffer survey. To keep your employees engaged and feeling connected to your culture, it’s important to keep morale high.
Just as you would offer employees in office positive reinforcement, it’s important to give remote workers recognition where it’s due, to show them gratitude, and to offer them constructive feedback. With these actions, you can easily help remote workers feel included, noticed, and appreciated.
Another way to keep these employees engaged and motivated is by offering them the opportunity to advance and grow. With tools like our learning management system or our skills tracking system employees can broaden their knowledge and master new skills. Further, with our work allocation system, employees are able to take on internal gigs that will allow them to take on new challenges and add to their career growth, while making a positive contribution to your company.
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