This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Amber Richardson.
With the many advantages of remote work for employees and their companies, it’s no wonder that this particular trend is gathering momentum around the world. A recent study we mentioned in ‘Tips For Working Remotely in 2019’ indicates that the average business would save up to $11,000 per employee annually if employees worked remotely just part-time. Yet, not working in a traditional office environment has its own set of challenges, like potential isolation, lack of human contact and time management and productivity issues, among others.
The remote working trend has, on the other hand, been indicative of a demand for more managers who are experienced in leading remote teams. Maryville University’s outlook on how business leadership is evolving demonstrate a demand for those who can implement structures to manage remote workers effectively. Therefore, building a solid relationship and having committed and happy remote workers will save you big in turnover costs. Remote workers are worth their weight in gold: they are more productive, more willing to work overtime, and more likely to stay with your company longer.
So are you doing everything to retain your best remote employees?
It’s very easy to become isolated working remotely, and the lack of human contact can lead to a lack of communication. Ashley Wilson notes how remote teams work better when they’re able to collaborate, so it’s not only important to provide the right tools but also encourage their use. Slack, Skype and other messaging and video conferencing tools are invaluable for collaboration. Use these to check-in with them regularly, assign collaborative tasks monthly, and encourage your members to work together to stay connected.
Schedule in-person meetings
Set aside a budget for in-person team get-togethers at least once a year (once a month if possible would be even better) so that team members can get to know each other better. Nothing beats getting everyone together face to face, and you’ll build a stronger rapport between employees during in-person meetups rather than months of remote efforts. Despite being a bit pricey, a day-long team-building exercise or a team away day for a few days will have a high ROI for your company. The opportunities to discuss culture, vision and the company’s future face-to-face are simply invaluable.
Give regular feedback
While it’s important for office-based workers to get regular feedback from management, it’s doubly important for remote workers. In addition to formal evaluations, you must provide regular informal feedback to your remote workers. It lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and keeps an open and clear communication channel. The main thing to keep in mind is to make employee happiness a big deal, as this will demonstrate that you care for and trust them. As a result, it will empower them to continue to do their best work.
Set clear expectations
To ensure your remote workers are motivated and productive, managers need to set clear expectations. If they don’t know what you want from them, employees won’t be able to perform to your standards and it might hurt morale and increase employee stress. In ‘How to Combat Stress as a Remote Worker’ we explained that part of the employer’s expectations should be clear policies, like the number of hours an employee should work and what they need to report to their supervisor, for example. In an HR survey, 23% of respondents noted that clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stay. Therefore, the best time for you to set clear expectations is during the onboarding process.
Amber Richardson is an HR consultant with 20 years experience, specializing in employee retention and engagement.