Now more than ever, there is an increasing shift in the workforce changing the way work gets done and the evolution of remote working models. Organizations recognize the need to attract and retain top talent and provide employee satisfaction through work-life balance as a critical element of their employee relations campaign. Not to mention projecting themselves ahead of other organizations in a highly competitive landscape.
Managers have to evolve alongside the changing workforce environments. Following are some best practices to provide guidance for successfully creating, maintaining and engaging a remote workforce.
Identifying the right individuals for remote roles is critical. Aside from the role's key criteria to be fulfilled, concentration on an individual's soft skills such as level of discipline, working independently and strong communication skills is imperative. Working remotely is not for everyone, recognizing that and setting expectations and a trial period will provide managers and individuals the opportunity to determine what works best and who can succeed. It is not uncommon for individuals to be interested in becoming a remote team member, but after some time determine that they prefer the office environment.
Communication is vital to the success of working remotely. Setting clear expectations and required touch points will support success. In addition, there should be a shared understanding of what communication format is appropriate for which communications. For example, all should be clear as to when phone calls/teleconferences, videoconferences, messaging, or email is best. Fostering an open communication environment where individuals can solve communication mishaps (miscommunication and interpretation) is also important and not always easy. Persistence is the only means to achieving this.
With a remote workforce in place, finding the appropriate instances for in-person meetings is important. Proactive planning and budget allocation for doing so is a standard best practice to be followed.
It is not uncommon for remote workers to feel disconnected and isolated from the greater team. There should be consistent communication and inclusion of remote team members not only related to their day-to-day responsibilities but greater organizational initiatives and/or task force assignments. If this is not possible or common, reaching out for input, insight and feedback will promote inclusion.
Technology continues to play a significant role in facilitating successful remote worker models, bridging the team and closing the gaps remoteness creates. Therefore setting aside and ensuring appropriate funding in this area is equally important. Some considerations may include video compatible computers or video cameras, cell phones, and phone and internet expenses.
Managing a remote team comes with many challenges, but the benefits of a larger talent base and retaining top talent will outweigh the challenges. Creative leaders who create and foster an engaging remote workforce environment will recognize great benefits and camaraderie for themselves and the greater team as well.
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