2020 marks the largest shift to remote work that this country has ever seen. Some companies are choosing to make this shift permanent for a portion or all of their workforce. As the location of where we are working changes, so must we change how we empower our remote workers.
Here are nine ways to empower your remote workforce to work effectively and efficiently on their own.
Define working hours and offer a wider range of time
Defining working hours adds structure and sets expectations for remote workers. Managers might be quick to set the same hours as the office; however, you will see improved performance and quality of work if the range of hours is expanded. If your office typically operates from 8 am to 5 pm with an hour lunch, you ask your employees to work for eight hours per day. Remote workers perform best when they feel trusted and respected. Allowing your remote workers to work 8 hours over the course of a 10 or 11-hour window gives your remote employees flexibility and the opportunity to manage their own time. It also removes the stress some remote workers may put upon themselves to be constantly available since everything they need to do their work is with them at all times.
Set your own range that best suits your business. If your business operates mainly on collaboration between teams, set hours during the day where workers must be working, perhaps 11 am to 4 pm. This way, everyone is accessible if they need to be and can rely on set times to collaborate.
Set daily or day-specific team check-ins’
Remote work can feel very isolating for workers, especially if a portion of the workforce does work at an office. Remote workers may often feel left out or not as valuable to the team. Setting frequent team check-ins that allow remote workers to call in virtually removes these negative feelings. Remote workers will feel that their voice and input matters. This also allows in-person team members an opportunity to connect with the remote workers on their team to communicate on projects.
Share weekly goals
Setting and sharing weekly goals amongst the entire team keeps everyone in the loop. It offers an opportunity for fellow employees to offer assistance, insight, or ideas regarding the work others are doing. Weekly goals allow managers to keep track of what their team is working on and step in to prioritize if needed.
At the end of the week or the beginning of the following week, don’t forget to have another check-in so team members can proudly share their accomplishments or progress towards their set goals. Don’t treat this like management looking over employees’ shoulders, instead encourage any form of progress and celebrate small wins towards a larger goal.
Share team or individual wins
Similarly to setting weekly goals, offer a process for individual team members to share their own wins or to spotlight their peers’ work. This can be done simply through an email to the team that gives kudos to a specific worker or department, or if your business uses project management software, you can set up a project just for posting wins and congratulating fellow peers.
Give remote workers the tools they need
Allow remote workers to take what they need from the office, including technology, office supplies, or other equipment they need to do their job. Having the right tools will encourage remote workers to get their work done, knowing they can still do it just as efficiently and effectively as they could have in the office. If you are concerned about damage to the equipment you loan out, have employees sign a waiver for any technology they are taking home. Should any damage come to the equipment, they will be held responsible.
Just because you can’t physically be in the same place doesn’t mean the office can’t have celebrations that include remote workers. Host them virtually. Play trivia over Zoom, and the team member with the most points wins a gift card. Encourage play and foster joyful involvement amongst the team. We’re people first, then employees. Don’t forget to have some fun!
Check-in more than you usually would
For remote workers, there is no default interaction happening naturally, as there would be in an office setting. No one is popping into their office to get an answer to their question quickly, and it’s easy for remote workers to be momentarily forgotten. When this happens, work can fall behind, or tasks may fall through. If team members feel out of the loop or aren’t able to pick up bits of news just from being around, everyone else involved, things fall apart. Therefore check-in more often than you typically would in an office setting. Virtual calls are perfect for getting answers quickly and offer a personal level of connection; no other communication method will.
Invest in a project management tool
Remote and in-person workers need a place where everyone can keep track of the tasks they are responsible for and easily share assets, updates, and ideas regarding on-going projects. Project management tools offer a space for all of this interaction. There are many programs out there for every need and budget. Our tip: No tool was made with your unique business in mind. Focus on getting as many features on your checklist included as you can. The tool for your team is the one that checks the most boxes and most likely will not check all of them.
Remote work may be the way of our future. The number one goal of any manager should be to implement processes that make your remote workers feel included, essential and well-informed. Conquer those three items, and you’ll have a dedicated remote workforce ready to accomplish whatever task you give them.