Many companies have launched a combination of remote and on-site working, creating a hybrid workforce in which some employees are on the premises while others work remotely. The new model promises flexibility, lower costs, and improved employee experience.
But there are downsides to this way of working despite these potential benefits. Remote employees can easily feel isolated and become victims of unintentional behaviour from managers and colleagues working in person daily.
Collaboration and morale can be negatively affected. Companies need to pay heed to create an inclusive culture for the remote workforce that provides stability and social togetherness.
Managing a Remote Workforce
There are several practices that can prove beneficial when managing remote employees. To provide employees with the support they need to navigate remote work and remain productive and engaged, start with these points.
- Establish Rules of Engagement
Setting expectations, like frequency, means, and ideal timing for communication makes remote work more efficient and satisfying. For example, use video conferencing for daily check-in meetings, but use instant messaging when something is urgent.
Managers should let their team members know the best way and time to reach out during the workday. Also, managers must keep an eye on communication among team members to ensure they share information as needed.
Establishing these rules of engagement as soon as possible, preferably when the workday starts, helps the entire team–remote and on-site–share the same expectations for communication.
- Keep Employees Updated with Important Messages
Recent statistics suggest that email may not be the most effective way to reach employees. With people ignoring their inboxes, how do companies get important information in a timely manner?
One of the most common and important needs for a hybrid or remote working model today is sending messages (or alerts) to employees across the company. This is called “broadcast messaging” or “proactive messaging”.
Device Management platforms allow companies to broadcast messages to BYOD devices. This feature can flash message pop-ups on the device screen. Messages can also be broadcasted on devices that do not have access to the SMS storage application.
- Stay Connected with Remote Team Members
Remote working can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation and a lack of connection between team members. Staying connected with employees is crucial for continuous productivity, high employee morale, and the overall well-being of employees.
Companies need to schedule regular video calls and virtual coffee breaks to allow people to see each other. Make sure of sufficient bandwidth for remote employees with poor network quality.
Regularly check the performance of BYOD devices with MDM technology. Leading Windows MDM platforms provide analytics on apps, data, and network usage. This will help remote workers collaborate and stay in touch efficiently.
- Equip Remote Employees With Tools and Technology
There are several types of tools available depending upon the nature of the work. These tools fall into the following categories:
Communication – Besides email, remote teams often incorporate other channels of communication, including chats and social collaboration apps.
Meetings – Tools for effective meetings are a category of their own. It includes video conferencing, virtual presentations, whiteboarding, and more.
Project management – Virtual teams need ways to view and update tasks and milestones in a shareable, easy-to-use manner.
File Sharing – Remote teams need efficient, secure ways of sharing documents and other file types.
- Conduct Virtual Team-Building Activities
Team building exercises are important to help teams work better together. If team members are working from different parts of the world, consider activities that don’t require large amounts of physical activity.
A successful team-building exercise involves careful planning from all stakeholders. Participants should be given ample opportunity to provide input about their needs so that every team member is comfortable during the activity.
Most of all, the success of a virtual event depends greatly on uninterrupted visual and audio communication. Therefore, a steady internet connection is crucial for a virtual collaboration activity.
- Increase Recognition
Effective recognition motivates the recipient and serves as a strong indicator to other employees of the kind of work they should follow. Recognition doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary; a public announcement during a team meeting, professional development opportunities or low-cost perks can be effective.
Lack of visibility in a remote environment can unintentionally isolate remote workers. Managers should consciously try to improve monitoring techniques and relationships. Use employee pulse surveys to ask specific questions and find areas of recognition.
By identifying aspects to recognize and thank the accomplishments of individuals and teams, companies can highlight the values of employees and that their efforts are worthwhile.