Amy Marcum | Insperity
Offices with traditional nine-to-five schedules and all employees in the same location are becoming increasingly rare in the modern workplace. More and more employers allow employees to work remotely, driven by advances in technology, a desire for better work/life balance, the high cost of office space and a shortage of skilled workers.
While remote work can bring benefits to organizations, managing remote workers may cause headaches for team leaders. However, there are several steps that managers can take to ensure that remote workers, whether located across town or across the country, feel connected to their work, company and colleagues.
Choose Technology Wisely
There is a seemingly endless array of technology options for offices with remote workers, including video conferencing software, messaging apps, file sharing sites and project management tools. With the vast number of options available, it is important to focus on the tools that will improve team functionality and efficiency. Managers may find success in narrowing the options by involving the team members who will be using them regularly. This approach can also increase buy-in and give employees ownership of the process.
It is critical to maintain regular communication with remote workers, but managers should remember that connecting digitally may come across as more impersonal than a face-to-face interaction. During calls or video conferences, supervisors should make an effort to connect with team members on a personal level to reinforce that they are an integral part of the team. It may also be wise for managers to arrange regular in-person meetings if possible, whether to discuss business, or for a more casual conversation.
Practice Equal Treatment
A remote worker’s absence from the office should not mean he or she is discounted from company activities or perks, or forgotten about when planning workplace events. For example, some employers routinely provide snacks or meals to their workers. Since a remote worker may not be able to enjoy these treats in the office, leaders may consider sending them a gift card to a local restaurant or having treats delivered to their home, so they can also enjoy the perk.
Additionally, managers should invite remote staff to workplace events such as volunteer activities or holiday parties, even if geography means they are unlikely to attend. This can help encourage the feeling of belonging and inclusion among remote workers.
Plan an Annual Gathering
Annual gatherings that enable colleagues from different departments and locations to come together can be great for morale and team-building. While they may be costly, these events can help employees foster relationships and build rapport with one another, as well as provide leadership an opportunity to reaffirm corporate values and realign workers to the broader mission.
As technology continues to evolve, so does the workplace. Consequently, remote employees, or entirely remote workforces, may become increasingly common. Companies that make a concerted effort to communicate with and engage these staffers can help them feel part of the team, boosting morale and productivity in the process.
Amy Marcum is a senior human resource specialist with Insperity. Insperity provides an array of human resources and business solutions designed to help improve business performance. For more information, visit www.insperity.com.