Technological advancements have made remote work arrangements feasible and more seamless to the point they’re no longer an anomaly. According to one study, 63 percent of companies today have remote workers. This new paradigm means those at the top are tasked with ensuring productivity remains high, while feeling pressure to integrate virtual staff into the organization’s DNA.
To that end, managers should keep the following in mind:
Know your why: When introducing a telecommuting policy, it’s best to have it grounded in a larger goal. For example, is telecommuting a means to bolster morale or save money, or a combination of motivations? If so, how will you measure that?
Be fair: Remote and on-site employees should be evaluated equally and according to the same standards to maintain fairness. Effective managers know they must maintain open channels of communication regardless of their physical location. That means recognizing strengths and encouraging professional development when appropriate.
Consider a hybrid approach. Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace report reveals that telecommuting yields the most benefits to employees and employers when workers don’t spend 100 percent of their time at home. Employees are more engaged when they spend some of their workweek working remotely and the other part working in a location with their coworkers.
Why is this the case? Numerous factors come into play. One important one is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue. Telecommuting workers can feel undervalued and less engaged. Another reason why a 100 percent telecommuting plan is not always ideal is that fully remote workers do not get that opportunity to connect with their co-workers, which can lead to feelings of isolation. Human beings crave connection with others. Even small amounts of face time with co-workers and managers can help increase the odds that an employee’s telecommuting efforts are successful for everyone involved.
Keep employees engaged: Platforms like Slack, Zoom, etc. have made it more possible than ever to stay connected. But don’t use technology as a crutch. Don’t forget to make the in-person interactions count. For example, if there are company-wide conferences, retreats or celebrations, make every effort to include remote workers in such occasions to deepen team relationships. You also might think outside of the box and invest in a team building activity like the ones we offer.
Remote work arrangements are likely to become even more common, with the rise of globalization. The question then becomes, will you fight change or lean in to it?