How Can You Be a Better Leader to Remote Employees?
In our digital world, many of us have the luxury of working remotely. Owl Labs has determined that 56 percent of global companies allow for remote work, and more than 52 percent of employees work offsite at least once per week. 68 percent do so at least once per month.
According to a two-year study by Stanford University, working remotely can lead to productivity, which is also the number one reason people choose to work offsite.
Other results of the research project showed that remote employment options led to an increase in employee retention, an improvement in the talent pool, benefits to the environment and more time for individuals to spend with family and friends.
Despite its growing popularity, remote work comes with its fair share of challenges including tracking productivity, building trust and aligning company culture.
From the employees’ perspective, a study by Zogby Analytics revealed that remote workers also feel some disconnect, reporting a lack of information from management and challenges with its timely distribution as the largest obstacles of working from home.
However, these challenges can be overcome with proper communication and thoughtful processes.
As a leader of a team or organisation with remote workers, you can set your employees up for success and keep them engaged by making a few changes in the way you lead.
Here is a collection of six recommendations for leading remote team members:
1. Foster a personal connection
Although it’s important to remain professional, keep in mind that your team members are still human beings. Remember to check in with employees and ask about their interests and lives outside of work. Recognise what gives them energy and drains their energy and be mindful about giving them a balance of tasks that can be challenging and enjoyable.
2. Keep the lines of communication open
Establish consistent communication methods and channels that honour different time zones and use them regularly."Online communities, social collaboration software and chat clients help bring remote employees inside the cultural conversation," said Tony Ventrice, senior product manager at Eversight. "Not all of these communications must be even completely serious – much of what brings a team together is the shared banter."
3. Gamify your teamwork
Gamification, or the application of game-playing elements to non-game environments, has become a popular tactic for companies that want to encourage customer loyalty and engagement in a fun, dynamic way.These same tactics of encouraging competitions and building in rewards for everyday activities can also be an effective employee engagement strategy to help remote and on-site workers come together and feel included in the culture.
4. Use video
To connect with and engage team members, it's incumbent, especially with virtual employees, to schedule regular meeting times and actually see one another when you're speaking.
Tim Hagen, Progress Coaching, reports, "If we do not schedule time or talk with one another and hopefully face to face, silence becomes very loud and dangerous, as remote employees might end up wondering how they're doing."
5. Set guidelines to establish trust
Develop work-from-home guidelines, such as timely response to emails (e.g. within 24 hours), using texts for urgent matters and setting boundaries on phone calls between certain hours. Establishing processes will provide clear expectations for remote team members, help to make sure employees are not working around the clock and build trust.
6. Flex your style
In our organisation, we regularly use the Emergenetics® Profile in communication and collaboration to support remote workers and unite our global teams. By understanding how your team members prefer to think and behave, and using this knowledge to adapt how you work together, you can better connect with and engage your employees no matter their office location.
Our organisation has three regional offices in Denver, Singapore and Dublin, supporting 15 international offices and thousands of business Associates worldwide. We recognise the benefits and challenges of engaging with remote team members.
If you are interested in learning more about building positive cultures for on- and offsite employees and discovering how Emergenetics can support your staff, fill out the form below to speak with our team.
This article was originally published in Emergenetics International Blog “How Can You Be a Better Leader to Remote Employees?"