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How to Help Remote Workers Maintain Their “A” Game

Remote workers went from relative rarity to status quo in 2020.

Working from home isn’t a new concept, of course. The National Telecommunications and Information Association said nearly a third of Americans reported that they had used the internet to work remotely at some point in 2019. But it was hardly mainstream. Apollo Technical says 44% of companies didn’t even allow remote work prior to COVID-19.

The pandemic changed everything, forcing businesses and employees to figure out how to get the day’s tasks done from the confines of home. And while some companies are returning to normal, others are transitioning to a “new normal” — one in which at least part-time remote work is a way of life for much if not all of their workforce.

Many employees love the benefits to their work-life balance that telecommuting provides. But it does have its drawbacks — among them, some employers find it challenging to ensure all of their remote workers are engaged and fully productive.

Fortunately, this is a problem with numerous solutions. The following are some ways you can keep your telecommuting employees on their “A” game.

5 Tips for Keeping Remote Workers Engaged

1. Maintain Regular Communication … But Don’t Hover

Managing remote workers involves threading a communications needle.

At this point, you likely have a wealth of options at your fingertips — instant messaging, email, phone calls and video chat. The key is determining how often you should use each of these tools, when and why.

Video chat is especially useful in bringing together the entire team, whether it’s for catch-up meetings to get everyone on the same page, or collaborative meetings to flesh out ideas and determine plans of action.

Phone calls should be used for “softer” one-on-one communication. Instant messages can be the most efficient way of asking spot questions or relaying timely information. And email is best for any communications your employees will want to save for reference later down the road.

All of these channels are easily abused, of course. Like with all things, moderation is key, and you’ll want to reach out to employees to determine whether they feel overwhelmed by any particular aspect — too many video meetings, so many emails they can’t keep up and so on.

2. Recognize Workers’ Contributions

Another way to keep remote workers’ attention is to occasionally shine the spotlight on them.

In the office, it’s a lot easier to give a pat on the back or otherwise convey that someone has done their job admirably. But when those workers are spread across the state or even the country, it’s easy to forget these occasional plaudits.

Be cognizant of whether and how often you’re praising good work. Many companies find it useful to institutionalize this kind of recognition, suggesting regular nominations for employee of the week/month that include small financial rewards.

3. Provide Extra Support to New Employees

The people most likely to feel left behind are remote workers who have never set foot in the office, had a desk or a workspace of their own, or interacted with their co-workers in person.

These people face a number of handicaps the moment they join your team. Sometimes they have more difficulty learning things ranging from the company’s software to corporate culture.

While fresh hires typically get extra attention, make sure to go the extra mile when those hires are remote. Double-check that they have all the resources and training they need and that they’re in contact with their co-workers.

4. Collect Feedback … And Heed It

Step 1 here is simply collecting feedback. You can create an open-door policy where employees can feel free to talk to you (in person or digitally) whenever they have a problem. Or you could set up an anonymous suggestion box, which you can do digitally via online programs such as FreeSuggestionBox.com.

But Step 2 is actually listening to this feedback and implementing it where you can. No employee has the expectation that every last suggestion they submit will make the cut. However, if you’re open to criticism, you might find that your employees have some useful ideas. And occasionally putting them into action should buy some considerable buy-in.

5. Make Sure They Have the Right Tools

This goes without saying, but workers can’t do their best with poor equipment.

Think about how you set up your office. You make sure you have comfortable chairs, desks with sufficient space and computers with updated software that can get the job done.

Accommodating remote workers isn’t much different — it just involves more tools and flexibility.

Remote workers might need additional monitors, portable desks and ergonomic keyboards. Be ready and willing to fulfill any reasonable requests. But they also need the right software, too — collaborative tools, communication apps and other productivity programs. Skimp on these things, and your employees might not be as productive as they could be.

If you’re not quite sure how to optimize your company to make the most of your remote workers, reach out to McManamon & Co. We provide numerous services to small and midsize businesses, including paperless office consulting. Our experienced staff can evaluate your current workflow, provide a full report with paperless recommendations (including equipment and tools), and help key personnel implement these changes.

Learn more about the myriad ways McManamon & Co. can help your small business achieve the office of tomorrow. Call us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online today.

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