Remote workers are becoming a more and more common part of the workforce, especially for new businesses. Remote workers could include administrative staff, fleet drivers and even managers in other locations, with many businesses finding remote workers a useful asset to have for the business.
As more businesses seek to offer flexible working solutions to employees, it’s likely you could see the percentage of remote workers within your business increasing.
While there are many positives to working remotely, there are also a lot of drawbacks, and many remote employees can feel isolated from the rest of the business – something that could lead them to look for other work elsewhere.
Help keep your team together for a closer, happier working environment. Here are some ideas on how to keep remote employees connected.
Give them the tools they need
It’s your duty as an employer to make sure that all of your employees have the tools they need to do their jobs, and the same goes for remote workers. Make sure that you set them up with the right technology and equipment to do their role – just because they’re not taking up desk space, doesn’t mean that they should pay for their own equipment.
Your employees shouldn’t be left out of pocket when it comes to expenses, especially those who travel a lot for their role. A WatchCard is a great service for employees to purchase fuel for their vehicles – meaning they won’t have to fork out and wait for their claims to be paid. It will also give you peace of mind about spending, tracking and other details that you might need to check up on with your remote workers.
Setting up some cloud-based systems will help give everyone access to the same tools and software, with no need to install different network connections. There are some great cloud-based tools to run a virtual office that could benefit you and your employees, helping to keep everyone on the same page.
Ask them what they want
Your remote workers might have different needs to those in the office, so the best way to find out is to ask them what they want. Some workers might need specialist equipment to help them see better or to demonstrate better posture, while others might have other needs altogether. There are some key health and safety risks for remote workers that are worth considering, and conducting home visits could be a sensible solution to ensure your employees are working in the right conditions.
When employees work on projects together, they can develop better working relationships as well as learn more about their fellow colleagues. Instead of putting people from the same office on the same project teams, try mixing them up so that your remote workers get to be a part of things. There are some free online collaboration tools which employees can use as discussion boards for their work but also serve as a place for them to engage in workplace chatter (within reason). Encourage online brainstorms and other project management tools to help encourage close collaboration, no matter where individual team members are based.
Be clear in your communications
It’s easy to misinterpret an email or an instant message, so when relaying information and instructions to remote workers, you have to ensure that they’ve got a clear understanding of what you’re saying. Asking them to set deadlines for their work, progress reports and clarifying actions with them can help minimize confusion and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Make the most of video conferencing
Video conferencing has changed the way we do business, allowing us to see faces as though they’re around the table instead of just a voice on the phone. If you have several remote workers in your company, it’s worth investing in high-quality video conferencing technology to provide the best results. You can make video conferencing work for you by reading case studies and seeking advice from providers.
Keep them in the loop
Company-wide communication is important to make everyone feel connected to the business. Setting up an all-staff email distribution list can help you share news easily, from business-related news to welcoming new staff members. You can always set up a separate list for those based in the office for office-related issues as well as those ‘there’s cake in the break room’ emails.
If you’re about to break some big news in the office, give your remote workers a head’s up over the phone, or let them dial in to hear what’s happening. It’s better to hear the news directly from you as their boss, rather than through someone else who happened to be in the office to hear the news first-hand.
Bring everyone together
Many remote workers can go months or years without ever meeting some of their colleagues, but a face to face get together now and then is a great way to bring people together. Organize a company away day, conference or social event that everyone can attend and enjoy being in the same place as everyone else. Paying for your remote workers’ travel is the least you can do to make it happen while offering them an extended stay can help them make the most of their visit to HQ.
Provide them with the same development opportunities
Some remote workers can feel at a disadvantage when it comes to seeking development and promotion opportunities. Just because you don’t see someone’s face every day, doesn’t mean that they should be seriously considered for a promotion to their role. Development opportunities are important, and all staff should be encouraged to seek learning and training opportunities.
Regular appraisals can help you to learn more about where your employee sees themselves in the next few years, as well as how they’d like to progress. Employees who benefit from development opportunities are likely to stay loyal to a company, so you should invest time and resources in upskilling your staff.
Managing your workforce will lead to some important realizations about running a startup or other business. While keeping your remote workers happy and connected can be difficult at times, it’s important that you do what you can to help them feel a part of the wider team. Regular communication with your remote workers will make them feel valued, ensuring the best results for them and your business.