The remote work trend is showing no signs of slowing down. Initially, only an option for a privileged few, more and more individuals are choosing to telecommute and joining the remote workers movement, and an increasing number of companies backing those decisions for various reasons.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, this mutual desire for remote work has seen the industry grow 173% since 2005. In the US, telework has grown 115% in the past decade.
The Engagement Challenge Among Teleworkers
A common challenge in managing remote workers, however, is disengagement and a greater lack of motivation.
According to one Build Fire study published a few months ago, field workers and desk-less employees feel a disconnect between themselves and their employers. They also feel disconnected from fellow employees. In total, only 26% of the employees are engaged.
Yet, engagement is a crucial pillar in successful companies. Highly engaged companies are 20% more productive than companies with low engagement. They are also 21% more profitable and boast a 10% higher customer loyalty.
The organization has a duty and responsibility to drum up inspiration and motivation for maximum productivity. The following are seven quick tips to consider;
Engagement begins with effective communication. There can be no meaningful engagement without regular communication between the worker and the management and their fellow workers. Keeping them informed and in the loop reminds them that they are a valued part of the organization.
A familiar mistake many managers and team leaders make, for instance, is assuming that no news is good news. That when a remote employee isn’t communicating with them, then everything is going well. This is the wrong approach to communication. You must be regular contact, whatever the circumstances.
One thing that could quickly derail engagement and motivation among teleworkers is the lack of clarity in goals and objectives. If expectations are obvious and mutually agreed-upon, then engagement will follow. But, when remote workers aren’t certain about what’s expected of them, they can only fumble.
Regular communication, as discussed above, would be a good first step to ensuring goal clarity. Additionally, make sure to schedule meeting with all your employees from time to time through e-conferencing software to remind them about these goals. You also must let them know whether they are hitting the set goals or not.
Still on goals, organizations must understand that employees are more motivated and better engaged when they feel in control of the situation. If they feel that they may not be able to deliver because of certain constraints, they quickly become demoralized and disengaged.
A greater focus on deadlines than the project milestones is one factor that makes them feel helpless about the project. It makes them feel less connected to the project and more worried about the looming deadline. So, you need to change priorities. Although deadlines are important, stress more on the need for a quality product.
Employees who work at a desk in the physical office know about their routines. They know what to do when they get to the office, what’s expected them, and why all these routines are necessary. Unfortunately, teleworkers don’t have similar routines. Even the time they begin work or stop work is different. This can cause disengagement.
Organizations need to find means to bring some semblance of a routine to their remote teams to keep them engaged and motivated. You don’t need to dictate when they should wake up. But, you must stress the need to start work on time and uphold company standards in everything they do.
Engagement among remote workers can also be disrupted by the environment in which the employees work. Unlike the commercial office where everything is optimized to achieve maximum productivity, the home office is still prone to occasional distractions. It could be a visitor from nowhere that the worker has to attend to or a sudden hunger feeling that forces them to cook.
You must help your remote workers manage their time better and even advise on how to deal with such distractions. The help can be in the form of training, tips, and even tools for time management.
A happy employee is an engaged employee. That’s because when the employee is happy, it means that they feel wanted and their needs are being met. It also means that they buy into the organization’s processes and are excited about their role in the grand scheme.
There are several steps you can take to make your employees happy. These include providing additional training, upgrading their hardware, and making them feel appreciated through regular feedback. Changing their routines to help them perform better should also be considered.
Appreciating your workers is one of the most important things in an organization. When your employees feel appreciated, they are excited to do more because they know they’re on the right track. At the other extreme, workers who don’t feel appreciated tend to feel unmotivated and are largely disengaged because they aren’t sure if they’re doing the right thing.
There are endless ways to recognize your employees for great work. You can say a big “thank you.” You can also award them a trophy or have an “Employee of the Month/Year” arrangement. Remember to make the recognition public so that other organization members get to appreciate the employee too.
In the end, it boils down to how well you connect with your remote employees. If you can maintain a tight relationship with open communication channels and ongoing support, engagement and motivation come almost automatically.