There are many benefits to letting your employees work remotely, such as employee satisfaction, reductions in attrition, increased productivity, and improved overall performance. Companies can benefit by lessening the on-site expenses and having a larger talent pool - after all, it's a lot more cost effective to let someone work from where they're already located, rather than pay to relocate them somewhere new.
When you begin to diversify your workforce, however, a new challenge arises. How do you keep your remote employees engaged and working as a team with your on-site teams?
2018 remote work stats
- 63 percent or about two-thirds of companies have remote workers in 2018.
- Remote work has become a highly coveted workplace perk.
- 43 percent of the U.S. workforce has worked remotely at some point.
- 90 percent of workers already working remote plan to continue doing so until they retire.
- By 2020, more than half of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely.
- Over the past 10 years, there's been an increase of 115 percent in telecommuting.
- 170 U.S. companies operate 100 percent virtually.
- Remote work, even if it's part time, empowers employees and can lead to better work/life balance and improved overall wellness.
- Employees save time and money working from home, even a couple of days a week.
What does all of this mean? You could ask for volunteers to work remotely and see the in-house cost savings. You could send as many employees to work from home as possible, and downsize your office space. You could hire talent from all over the globe, and not have to pay for relocation fees. The opportunities are endless.
Six tips to keep your remote employees engaged
Now that some or all of your employees are working remotely, you come across a whole new challenge: How do you keep them engaged with each other? After all, teamwork is paramount to success.
First, set clear expectations. Remote employees should have a crystal clear understanding of what is expected of them. Conduct virtual meetings, and stay connected with email and instant messages. Ensure that there is a culture of accountability in place before you even begin remote work.
Keep an ongoing schedule. Adopt a cadence of deadlines that lets remote workers report in, even if it's within an online system.
Track activity automatically. Try using automatic tools to track time for remote employees. Instead of worrying about punching in, this will free up time to answer emails, IMs, and other important things that come up on the fly.
Focus more on the what, not the when. When you place more emphasis on what materials or tasks are being completed, and less on the "when and where," you will see an increase in productivity. When you focus more on task-based items for remote workers, that eases the stress of arbitrary deadlines for remote workers.
Communicate - a lot. Use any virtual platforms and tools that can tie your team together. Real-time portals, instant messaging services, video chats, and more can help to ensure that your remote team is staying in contact. If at all possible, get to know your remote employees in a face-to-face setting. An annual event where employees from all over get a chance to meet in person can create camaraderie and help to refocus on company goals and individual performance.
Finally, remember to reward and recognize remote employees. Employees can see what values and behaviors are celebrated in an organization and can seek to emulate those behaviors. Additionally, features like activity streams along with programs designed to unite teams and departments can help remote employees feel more connected to one another and the company at large.
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