Working offsite is no longer the revolutionary business idea it once was. These days, many businesses oversee a workforce that—at least to some degree—rarely or almost never actually sets foot in the office or workplace. These remote employees work from home or even in another state or country, seeing to their job responsibilities just as efficiently as if they were located in a cubicle outside their manager’s door.
At the same time, certain challenges persist where remote workers are concerned. How can you be sure an offsite employee is being as productive as possible? What can be done to motivate him or her in much the same way that onsite employees are inspired to do their best?
In reality, notes employee productivity specialist Dave Nevogt, “the only things keeping remote employees from taking their foot off the gas pedal is their own discipline and their motivation.” It’s the employer’s responsibility “to provide this motivation across many miles, sometimes continents.”
Here are five practical ways to ensure your offsite workforce remains focused and motivated:
1. Maintain regular communications. Given the available technology (email, Skype, numerous other web-based platforms), there’s no reason you can’t stay in touch with offsite employees on a regular basis. The key is remembering to contact them on an agreed-upon schedule (once or twice a week, for example) to see if they’re on target to complete a project, need help with additional resources or simply have problems you can address. When these employees don’t hear from the main office, their sense of dislocation can grow.
2. Think of remote employees as a key element of the team. Feeling like they’re part of a team effort helps bolster a remote worker’s sense of belonging. Always make sure any contact you have with your onsite staff (new announcements, email newsletters, etc.) also includes those working from home or elsewhere. Encourage employees in the office to stay in touch with their offsite counterparts, as well.
3. Hold virtual meetings, when needed. Just as it’s important to convene internal meetings when there’s something important to communicate, you can schedule virtual meetings with remote staff as a way to track their progress, foster contact between these employees and keep them abreast of events within the organization. Video-conferencing is an excellent resource for these meetings, as even digital face-to-face contact is better than rushed, impersonal phone calls.
4. Extend recognition to your offsite team. By and large, businesses understand that “employee recognition not only improves company culture, boosts morale, prevents costly turnover [and] increases your bottom line.” If you have a robust employee recognition and reward program in place, always remember to include your remote team as well. Highlighting their efforts, when appropriate, will bolster their sense of inclusiveness and motivate them to continue to excel at what they do. At the same time, it only takes a few minutes to compose a “Great job!” email and send it on when the time is right. Any communication that underscores your appreciation for their efforts can work wonders.
5. Offer opportunities for professional growth. Again, as with employees who work in the office, the remote team should benefit from training and development programs sponsored by the business. Just remember that these employees “already have flexibility in their jobs, so they expect the same flexibility when it comes to training.” This includes online learning programs offered in a range of formats, so offsite workers can choose the ones that are most convenient and effective for them. In exchange, you’ll benefit from their enhanced skills and knowledge.
Your employees, whether based offsite or in the workplace, are among your business’s key assets. Keeping them motivated is well worth the time and effort involved.
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