With the rise of digital working and with 85% of Fortune 500 companies using at least one Microsoft Cloud service, remote working is becoming more and more common, and companies often use remote associates around the world so that they can offer their services seamlessly 24/7.
While this is wonderful, remote working presents managers with a new challenge: How do you keep your remote workers engaged, motivated, and productive, when you don’t work with them on a day to day basis?
Here are my 5 top tips for keeping your remote workers engaged and happy:
1 – Regular communication
The key to keeping your remote employees engaged is to make them feel like part of the team, and let them know you are thinking about them. While tools like Skype for Business and video conferencing make it easy to keep up your weekly meeting from wherever you are, why not add a personal touch and have a cake and coffee delivered to each of your employees just in time for the meeting? Yes, there are companies who do that! (See Sponge or Waffle Meisteras examples)
Tools such as Skype for Business and Office 365 allow you to check in with your teams on a daily basis, so that your employees and associates feel included and engaged on a daily basis. Video conferencing also means that you can keep up face to face communication with your remote workers, adding an element of personal interaction to their working day.
2 – Set clear targets/goals
There’s a common and highly damaging misconception that remote workers don’t work as hard as those in the office, and many employers fear that employees who are working remotely are more difficult to manage.
The truth is that methods of management just need to be adapted to accommodate this new way of working. Transparent and collaborative working is easier than ever, and tools like Delve, MyAnalytics, Microsoft Planner, and new Microsoft Teams allow you to communicate, share and collaborate on projects and documents as a team, and manage your workload from anywhere.
The focus needs to shift to delivered outcomes: it doesn’t matter where or when targets are met, as long as your employees are getting their work done and delivering what they need to deliver. With regular communication and enhanced enterprise collaboration tools, Office 365 with SharePoint Online is the ideal platform to facilitate efficient and productive remote working from motivated employees.
3 – Publicly reward work
Depending on your company’s way of doing things, you may have an employee of the month, a reward for the best salesperson, or regular announcements congratulating the teams who worked on successful projects. Visible appreciation and recognition foster a motivated team environment, and your remote workers shouldn’t miss out on this.
Your intranet newsfeed may include gamified recognition badges, simple congratulatory announcements, or messages of thanks. When your employees can access your intranet anytime and from anywhere, they can feel appreciated and part of the team, and become recognised within your organisation for their skills.
For example, if you publicly congratulate a remote employee for a successfully managed digital marketing campaign, then others within your business will know that they are the person to go to for any similar projects. It encourages interdepartmental collaboration and communication, and helps your remote workers become embedded in the team.
4 – Celebrate personal milestones
Most offices organise cakes for birthdays, cards for weddings etc. but when you are part of a remote team, it is easy to be left out of this camaraderie. A simple but effective way to show your remote employees that you care is to arrange for a cake, card, or gift voucher to be sent to them instead. Companies such as Sponge offer cake cards that are ideal for this purpose.
5 – Encourage non work related conversations
Humans are social creatures by nature, and remote working can easily leave your employees feeling isolated – you can’t catch up on the office kitchen gossip if you’re on the other side of the country to the office!
To foster a relationship between your employees that is based on trust, it is important that all your teams have the ability to discuss non work-related things with their colleagues, just as they would over the kettle if they were working in the same location. Interestingly, a Gallup survey in 2015 found that 55% of employees whose managers were open and approachable in this way are engaged at work.
Being able to ask questions and talk to managers about non work related issues is important in fostering an atmosphere of trust and forging strong team dynamics, and managers should be make an effort to help their remote workers engage in this process. This could be done via a regular informal team catch up – perhaps on a Monday to discuss everyone’s weekend – and you could even send coffee shop vouchers to remote workers, so that they can join the discussion over a hot drink.
Scientific studies have actually shown that people are nicer to people when they are holding hot drinks, and are themselves warmer to others when they are holding one. Who knows how true that is, but when it comes to boosting team spirit every little helps – especially when you are miles away from your colleagues!
Remote working should be seen as an empowering way of working, and not something to be feared. Hopefully these tips will offer a little inspiration for keeping your teams motivated and united, wherever they are!
The Business Cloud Integration team offer guidance and support for the entire lifecycle of your SharePoint deployment, from initial guidance and Office 365 roadmap planning through to SharePoint design, build, development, and training.
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