Even though remote work is on the rise and in many cases is preferred by staff members, it’s important to ensure that remote workers are embraced and feel a part of the team.
A recent study from Harvard Business Review revealed that remote workers often feel left out, even shunned, by their fellow employees. Out of 1,153 employees surveyed by HBR, 52 percent said they work from their home office some of the time.
The survey, conducted by Vitalsmarts, then studied how those remote workers compared to on-site employees in terms of feeling like part of the team. In every instance, remote workers agreed more strongly than their on-site counterparts with statements such as: “colleagues make changes to a project without warning me,” or “colleagues don’t fight for my priorities.”
The study goes on to point out that the result of these negative factors can lead to lost productivity and an increase in stress. While IBM dealt with these issues by bringing everyone back to the office, HBR argues that by following 7 best practices, managers of remote teams can encourage habits that connect everyone involved with each project, developing trust and shared purpose.
- Check in frequently and consistently
- Use face-to-face, voice-to-voice contact
- Demonstrate exemplary communication skills
- Make expectations explicit
- Be available
- Demonstrate familiarity and comfort with technology
- Prioritize relationships
At Suitable Technologies, we couldn’t agree more. But how do you accomplish these tasks when your workforce is spread out and opportunities to meet in person are few and far between?
Here are 3 tips, some of our own and some borrowed from others, to make these actionable:
- Focus on “how” employees work, not where: Future of Work Unlimited argues that companies need to train supervisors how to manage for results, create cultures of autonomy and accountability, and focus on the best way to get work done. Location shouldn’t matter as much as output.
- Prioritize virtual socializing - part of building trust, having frequent interaction, communicating well, and developing relationships means spending time together. While some would argue that doing so in person is the best way to accomplish this, technology can bring us together as well.
- Give Employees a Remote Face - having a proxy to attend meetings on-site as if you were there in person is the perfect way to achieve all seven of HBRs best practices. With telepresence technology, you can do just that.
With the right tools for the job, distance won’t hold your remote workers back or limit productivity. By embracing the right approach and taking advantage of the latest technologies aimed at solving these challenges, you’ll have your teams performing at their best. After all, well-managed remote workers are happy employees.
You need to see it to believe it. Try a Beam for the experience of participating in a remote meeting. We will walk you through an office scenario so you can see how it feels to “be there.”