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5 Ways to Motivate Remote Employees

by YOSS Community Writer, on August 27, 2019 at 4:18 PM

Traditional office spaces aren’t likely to become obsolete in our lifetime. However, the needs and habits of employees will continue to evolve thanks to an increase in the appreciation and incidence of remote work.

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Already, many companies are experimenting with remote staff as a way to recoup benefits such as reduced operating costs, increased productivity, and top talent acquisition. While some personnel might be housed in a fixed location, others participate in the corporate mission from a plethora of destinations. And the results look good for the bottom line.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report shows that when between 60% and 80% of work is performed off-site, engagement shoots up. A Stanford University study revealed similar findings, showing work-from-home personnel made more efficient use of their time, resulting in a 13% improvement in overall performance.

These serious advantages of a remote work plan are an offshoot of society’s drive toward individualism and work-life balance. Employees who can call some of the shots, including where they perform their jobs, tend to feel more empowered. And that leads to stronger loyalty. The same Stanford researchers who saw increased focus noted 50% less job attrition among those who worked from their residences.

To be sure, not all industries have fully embraced remote working, assuming it’s impractical or even impossible. What many are discovering is that it’s perfectly reasonable, even in the IT and data sectors. One cursory glance through Glassdoor or ZipRecruiter listings offers a plethora of remote contractual high-level data scientist postings. This dovetails nicely with Nasdaq predictions that by 2020, nearly half the U.S. workforce will be freelancing, which often includes working remotely.

Building a Solid Foundation for Remote Workers

If your organization has already begun opening the doors to remote work or is just considering taking the first step, follow these guidelines to make the most of the experience:

1. Connect each employee's role to the team purpose.

Because they are not physically available, remote workers can suffer from being the last ones to know about initiatives, projects, changes, and even overarching corporate goals. Make an effort to stay in contact with your full team, regardless of location, to pass along those updates and communicate their importance.

In addition, take time to make proper introductions between co-workers who need to work together, highlighting each person’s strengths and talents. This will not only build team cohesion, but it will also strengthen the dynamics and help everyone operate from the same rulebook. Plus, giving remote workers credibility improves the way they are received by colleagues who work in-office.

2. Leverage sophisticated co-working technologies.

A huge concern among remote workers is being able to stay in contact with the company's home base. Don’t rely on texts or emails to keep everyone on the same track. Instead, choose technology that replicates life and social dynamics. Look for a platform that provides the least physical friction between user and output based on the size of your company, the projects you tackle, and the number of users on your team.

Slack remains a favorite choice among companies seeking software that brings everyone together. It isn’t the only player in the space, though. Have a lot of employees with Facebook accounts? Workplace could be a good fit. Constructed by the social media giant, its intuitive interface promotes engagement in multiple forms and can integrate with management systems including Salesforce. Another option is Flock, which allows simple conversations to morph into more important resources when needed.

3. Establish effective distance communication protocols.

Without getting too burdensome, establish regular meetings where all your workers can get together through video conferencing or in-app chats. Treat these events as you would an in-person meeting, sending out agendas before and notes after. Have workers across several time zones? Set up a rotating time slot that takes others’ time zones into consideration.

Be sure to open up the forum before the meeting so everyone can easily talk, just as they would in a more traditional meeting. If someone isn’t sharing, ask him or her questions to elicit responses. The last thing you want is for a remote worker to feel out of the loop or like his or her voice doesn’t count. A final important detail is to end all meetings at a strict point and ensure your in-office participants don't discuss new information after the remote workers leave the call or chat. That’s a violation of trust.

4. Foster culture and relationships.

The cultural fabric of successful virtual teams includes the threads of purpose, empowerment, reliability, and accountability. Invite everyone on the team to share knowledge and skills, including making remote workers point people for projects and other responsibilities. If the only workers who ever get the opportunity to lead are in-house employees, remote team members will feel slighted. Additionally, they will lose the chance to learn and grow, which is something important to top-level players and essential in creating a top performing hybrid team.

It’s essential for remote workers to feel their contributions are validated by management. Otherwise, they might wonder why they should give their all. Ideally, everyone on staff should believe that what they do is appreciated and noticed. 

5. Create a space for informal interactions.

Remote workers can’t hang out around the snack bar or water cooler. What they need is a space for impromptu sharing and connection with their colleagues. The opportunity to bond in-person with other employees is a critical part of growing to trust a team, so this is an element you can't overlook.

Many communication software platforms and tools have social media features. Turn them on and turn your employees loose to have “offline” discussions, just as they would if they worked in the same physical space. Team pages allow people to share their lives, work, humor, trials, tribulations, and more. By humanizing everyone’s journey, you will set each person up to forge stronger bonds with colleagues and the organization as a whole.

Having remote workers offers up some challenges, but none of them is insurmountable. With a few thoughtful processes in place, you can ensure that everyone on your payroll has the support to work independently and collectively. If you're ready to start your company's journey to a more remote workforce, YOSS can help you find talent with the skills you need to build a successful team.

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Topics:Freelancer EconomyBusiness StrategyWork CultureFuture of WorkCompany ValuesFreelancer FriendlyIndependent Professionals