Part-time and full-time remote work is a growing trend. Employees do enjoy this perk as it gives them a greater flexibility. They are also able to manage time better (thanks to no loss of time commuting) and have reported to being more productive. However, there’s another side to this picture. It so happens that remote employees end up working longer hours, are unable to separate their professional and personal lives and often feel isolated, neglected and forgotten. This mélange then results in stress.
Employees want to experience a connection with each other, even those who don’t work from an office. A recent Globoforce study found interesting responses to the value of work relationships. 80% respondents apparently said that they trust their coworkers and for 93% it matters when colleagues think highly of them. While relationship building may be easy when you come to work every day, the situation is different for a remote worker.
So how is it that you can stop isolating remote employees? Let’s find out.
Be watchful of petty politics
Working remotely isn’t a bed full of roses. In a survey, 41% remote workers said that colleagues have said bad things behind their backs’. You see, more often than not, remote workers become a victim of office politics. They may not even have anything to do with it. Sadly, employees who do take advantage of their coworker’s absence get away with it too. Their behavior sows seeds of mistrust. However, if you want to treat both sets of workers equally then you have to learn to diagnose the problem. Get everyone on call and set out the facts. In no time you would have separated fact from fiction.
Invite them to team huddles
You catch up as a team once a week? Remote workers included? Fantastic. But can you also include them in team huddles and stand-up meets? The thing is that it is really easy to leave them behind thinking they have no or simply because who thinks of a person who’s not in front of them. You though can make all the difference. All it takes is just getting them on phone and everyone’s together, once again. If they can’t join you then it is a good idea to give them a gist of what the met was about so that they feel included. After all, they are still a part of your team and decisions affect them too.
A round of applause
Everyone deserves an applaud. Efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed or contributions underappreciated. A Gallup study, Employee Recognition: Low Cost, High Impact found out that “employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year.” The study further reports that “this element of engagement and performance might be one of the greatest missed opportunities for leaders and managers.” Also, the type of recognition that they value is when it’s done publicly. So, if a meaningful gesture as a praise can retain talent then there’s absolutely no harm in appreciating them! Whether you do so over an email, video conference or personally, appreciation does hold great value for someone who’s put their heart and soul into their work. Don’t deny them the fruits of their efforts!
Prioritise your relationship
A good team manager takes out time to form bonds with remote team workers. While you can’t obviously have watercooler meeting but you sure can pick up your phone or video chat and initiate a conversation, can you not? Keeping their time zone in mind, send them a meeting invite and schedule your call accordingly. If they’re in the same city then check if they would like to drop by at work sometime or meet out. Ask them how they’re getting by with their workload and what do they feel about the deadline. Spot their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you understand them better and develop a healthy relationship. Besides, your ‘I care for everyone on my team equally’ behavior will be treasured and your teammate will obviously feel valued.
Find a perfect fit
The job may demand a remote worker but is the employee a perfect fit? Can they handle working independently, with minimum intervention? Are they comfortable with the arrangement? Or do they need some handholding? Sometimes employees just jump at the idea of getting to work remotely not knowing the entire picture. This then calls for you to judge the situation better and make a decision that’s good for the company and its employee(s).
What challenges do you face when it comes to your remotely working team? One thing’s for sure that you must have realized that they are as important as your team sharing the office space with you. All you have to do is remain consistent in your effort and intent to lead a team that cares about each other and is on the same page. With time you will only get better and have the wisdom to make better decisions.