Keeping your remote workers connected
April 25, 2019
Whenever we talk about the future of work, outsourcing is always part of the picture. In fact, growing trends like the gig economy make outsourcing various business tasks to freelance professionals more prominent than ever.
And with good reason. Decreased overhead costs, a more flexible workforce, access to a much larger pool of talent, and increased efficiency are just a few of the advantages of employing remote workers.
Working from home has many benefits for the workers themselves, including a flexible schedule and no commute. This means that an increasing number of employees who have traditionally worked in an office are now requesting work-from-home time from their employers.
The amount of time varies: some ask for an occasional day, others prefer a more regular schedule, while there are some employees who wish to become completely remote. For example, 68% of employees around the world have at least one remote day in a month, 52% work from home at least once a week, while 18% are completely remote.
However, there is a severe downside to the revolution of remote work: the decline in connections, both professional and personal.
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When an employee asks for a work-from-home day, many managers picture them lying on the couch, surfing Netflix, while occasionally checking their email. Even though this is almost never the case, it’s true that you can’t physically check what your remote workers do.
In addition, you can’t run into them in the office kitchen, and therefore their presence can’t remind you of an important question you need to ask, or a situation you have to deal with.
Out of sight, out of mind, right?
Running into each other in the office kitchen has other benefits as well. A brief discussion about a project, yesterday’s game, or the nasty weather can help people feel connected, a real part of a team.
These connections in turn provide a great source of motivation, a boost to efficiency and productivity, and a general sense of wellbeing. Without them, employees can feel isolated and are a lot more inclined to look for another job. In fact, 60% of people say that the lack of friendships in their workplace contributes to their decision to leave their job.
And while there are many extremely useful tools that are essential for managing remote workers, none of them are 100% equal to a face-to-face meeting.
Luckily, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up on the benefits of working with remote freelancers, nor that you have to put up with a huge turnover.
If you have remote workers, you’re most likely already familiar with an array of tools that enable communication. For example, Slack is an instant messaging service that lets you message your employees (remote and on-site alike), share files, organize conversations according to topics, and even manage short voice calls.
Google Drive and its various assets are excellent for storing and sharing files and collaborating on sheets, documents, presentations, or forms.
And paying your workers (however remote) shouldn’t be a problem with Veem.
Veem allows businesses around the world to send, receive, and request payments. Cover all your bases.
However, what about those conversations in the office kitchen? The ones that help employees feel connected and thrive?
Even though your workers may be remote, they need to feel connected to the team. And without the convenience of running into each other at the office, you’ll have to work a little harder to make that happen.
Even if you have day-to-day chats via Slack, make sure to schedule regular video conferences with your team. Zoom, for example, is a great tool to make that happen. Seeing each other’s face occasionally is essential to keeping a good atmosphere at work.
If the conversation strays off topic (like in any regular meeting), allow it for a few minutes. Let your team members connect on a personal level as well.
Sharing a few jokes will strengthen their connection to each other and provide a sense of belonging that otherwise easily gets lost in the shuffle of remote work.
Dedicate a Slack channel to non-work conversations. Encourage discussing topics of common interest, like sports, culture, travel, games, or anything else your team members are interested in. These short talks replace traditional water-cooler conversations and help your team members get to know each other as people.
Schedule face-to-face meetings. If geography allows it, try to schedule regular meetups with your team members. Whether it’s a work meeting or an after-work visit to the pub, connecting with each other in real life provides a boost to the team’s productivity and well-being.
If that’s not possible on a regular basis, try to find a common hobby that your team can do together online. For example, playing a multiplayer game together is a great team-building activity.
Non-work activities are not a waste of time: a feeling of belonging and connection is crucial for the productivity of any employee. Since remote workers can easily feel left out and isolated, it’s all the more important to organize activities (whether work or social) to help them feel connected to the team.