What types of commuting issues do your workers have? All possible perks and benefits that address those problems (such as public transit vouchers, parking permits, vanpool arrangements, and bike storage) add extra costs to your bottom line - except for one: telecommuting.
On average, businesses save about $11,000 per year for every employee they shift to remote work status for half the week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. At the same time, individual workers save between $2,000 and $7,000 annually. Many companies already realize the cost effectiveness of remote work options, since 37 percent of American workers report telecommuting at least some of the time.
However, as an HR professional you manage people, not budgets. You may wonder what happens to team morale and employee engagement if your workers don't even have to get out of their pajamas. There is hope on the horizon, because Gallup research finds that employees who spend at least some time working remotely are "more likely to feel engaged in their jobs than those who never work remotely." Here are 5 management tips for keeping your remote workers aligned and motivated, so you can all benefit from the terrific cost savings offered by telecommuting.
1. Let Workers Control Their Schedules
Once you've taken the leap of letting people work remotely, it's not that big a step to allow them to set their own schedules. Does one employee prefer to work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m? Except for certain deadlines or teleconferences, that schedule most likely isn't a problem. You won't maximize your employees' well-being from telecommuting if you still require them to clock in every day at 8 a.m.
It's important to keep in mind that the worker's home environment is less controlled than an office, and the person may have to break away to deal with a sick child, a runaway pet, someone at the door or a kitchen emergency. The whole attraction of remote work is that it helps people balance the demands on their time.
Dustin Grosse, COO of ClearSlide, offers this advice to managers of remote workers: "Rather than micromanaging when they're getting the work done, focus on what they're consistently achieving." Grosse points out that giving people more control over their time will result in happier and more engaged workers.
2. Work on Building an Active Employee Community
The biggest problem that remote workers encounter is a sense of isolation from the larger group. Your management efforts should be directed toward bringing people together and nurturing employee happiness. One way to do this is to make sure team-members have a chance to talk together. IPEC's Coaching Excellence emphasizes that emails are not the same thing as talking, and they won't contribute to a unified work culture.
Today's remote communications platforms offer sophisticated collaboration tools and vibrant opportunities for conversations that feel like everyone's in the same room together. Creating an opportunity for peer reward and recognition programs is also a valuable way to build a sense of teamwork. Receiving praise from co-workers is enormously valuable in strengthening employee motivation and building a productive team.
3. Facilitate Whole-Company Meetings
Company culture is key to the identity of your brand, and it suffers when team members are geographically separated. Writing in Entrepreneur, leadership coach Beth Miller notes that "as a company grows it gets harder to keep everyone aligned to the vision while maintaining your culture." She notes that regular quarterly meetings of the entire organization are beneficial to employee retention and overall productivity. It's also important to sponsor occasional full-staff retreats or recreational occasions, to make sure all workers identify with their organization as a whole.
While workers may be teleconferencing with their own team-members on a frequent basis, they probably have minimal face time with people in other departments. Employee alignment is encouraged by bringing workers together in person and giving them a say in the direction of the company. An organization's mission and values only stay alive to the extent that people internalize them.
4. Invest in Professional Development
Offering professional training and development to your remote workers is a substantive way to recognize the value of their contributions, and to keep them engaged and enthusiastic about working for you. Whether through individual mentorships, the chance to attend remote webinars, or tuition assistance for in-depth education, you can keep your telecommuting staff on a solid path to career advancement.
Did you know 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions within the first year? Avoid high turnover from remote and non-remote employees by offering valuable professional development and training programs. Also, with a company culture of promotion from within adds power to your employer brand.
5. Recognize Hard Work
While employees may relish the freedom of working late into the night while their favorite pet sleeps on their lap, said pet isn't going to praise them when they turn in an outstanding report ahead of deadline. Employee rewards and recognition take on a greater sense of importance when workers are geographically distant, since it shows employees their extra effort truly makes a difference. Recent Gallup research shows that employees working remotely are actually more likely to put in extra time on their jobs - probably because they get on a roll and really care about getting the project done well.
Providing your staff an opportunity to work remotely can be a powerful tool to build employee success. Fifty-one percent of workers say they would actually change jobs if they could get one that gave them the option of working from home. It’s clear that companies can gain a competitive edge by offering employees the ability to work remote. The only thing to remember is to practice techniques that will consistently engage remote workers. Start engaging every employee with frequent recognition and rewards. To learn more, access our eBook on How to Make Employee Recognition an Everday Event.
Discover how Shop Direct is engaging 4,700 on and offline employees with their Shine employee recognition program. Thank to Shine and its associated initiatives, Shop Direct's engagement survey has seen a 17% increase - from 67% in 2010 to world class 84% in 2017. Learn more by downloading Shop Direct's Case Study.
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