Telecommuters, virtual staff and remote workers are becoming more of a thing as companies are outsourcing their needs to skilled professionals around the world.
In comparison to leading a team of in-house employees, managing and leading a remote team can be a difficult and daunting task. It involves having an ability to connect with and engage employees virtually; in different countries and time zones.
Regardless of location, all workers want to feel appreciated and driven in the right direction. A great leader knows how to delegate tasks and most importantly, a solid leader knows how to serve their team, by listening to them.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
Since engaging with your employees face-to-face isn’t an option, the next best thing is video conferencing, audio calls and collaboration tools.
Communication is important when building a bond of trust between you and your workers. It’s important to communicate often, clearly and concisely.
Furthermore, to improve employee morale and keep them motivated, it’s important to engage them in a conversation about topics, other than work. No one wants to talk about targets, the weekly report or conversion metrics all the time. Ask your remote workers how their weekend was or how a particular aspect of their life is going; get to know them on an individual level. Make them feel appreciated as people and not just another worker, in the team.
In an article by Fast Company on making remote workers feel appreciated, it’s made apparent that casual communication can be difficult to accomplish for remote employees, as there’s no water cooler or elevator. It’s crucial for employees to feel connected with one another, beyond the work that they do. Integrating a fun factor into company communications can improve employee engagement and help them to bond and gel as a team.
A little bit of appreciation can go a long way when trying to manage a global team of remote workers. As a lost cost, high impact way to improve employee morale, don’t be afraid to show a little (or a lot) of gratitude for your team.
In a study by Gallup, recognizing the qualities of employees and the quality of their work motivates them and provides them with a feeling of accomplishment. They feel valued for their efforts and that improves productivity and boosts morale. The same study concluded that 28 percent of respondents said that the most memorable recognition comes directly from their manager. Recognition from a CEO or high-level leader came in at 24 percent and only 9 percent for peers.
Furthermore, the same study shows that respondents stated 6 types of recognition that they found to be the most memorable:
- Public recognition—an award, certificate or commendation to showcase their efforts.
- Private recognition—from a manager, CEO, peer or customer.
- Appraisal—gaining an achievement through an evaluation.
- Promotion—this signifies trust that the leader can give their remote worker more responsibility and highlights their skills.
- Monetary—this is most likely what every employee wants. An increase in pay, a bonus or a prize for their efforts.
- Satisfaction—either personal satisfaction for their efforts or taking pride in their work.
Favor Video Conferencing
Connecting with one another in 2019 has never been easier. There are multiple ways that teams and leaders can connect and collaborate.
In a study by Nicolas Bloom, Stamford University, 250 workers were chosen for an experiment where half of the employees worked from home. The remote employees worked 9.5 percent longer office hours than the in-house staff. Furthermore, they were 13 percent more productive.
Despite the advantages of increased productivity, the life of a remote worker can be a lonely one. Approximately half of the remote workers in the study conveyed that they wanted to come back to the office because they felt in solitude and were being passed over for promotion.
A workaround for helping your remote workers to feel less alone and more like part of a team is to communicate via video conferencing. Communicate with tools such as Skype, Zoom or Google Hangouts to put a face and a personality to the worker.
Video conferencing can also be used to improve employee engagement by giving your workers regular appraisals and reviews about their work. As a leader, you’re able to see their facial expressions, gestures and responses to your feedback. This helps you to understand your employees when engaging them.
Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?
One of the biggest trends of 2019 to develop progressive brands is to build communities. As people, we are community-based and feel our best when we’re surrounded by others with the same interests and goals.
According to a report by CMX, 67 percent of surveyed brands believe that building a community aids customer satisfaction and retention. The same principle applies to employee satisfaction and retention.
Creating a positive workplace culture for a remote team is one of the most successful ways to boost employee morale and productivity. If all of your team are swimming in the right direction, their interests and happiness will be aligned, for an increase in their morale.
Developing a cohesive team means to provide an environment for remote employees to engage with one another on a personal level. Often referred to as the “water cooler effect”, leaders will need to recreate a place where employees can talk freely about non-work related topics.
Another great way to aid in developing a community-based company culture is to organize events for employees that live in the same city or relatively close to each other. They can get to know each other beyond screens and feel connected past the virtual world.
A Healthy Work/Life Balance
As a leader, it’s your job to deploy empathy when engaging and understanding your remote team. They’re individuals, with their own schedules, time zones, likes, dislikes and nuances.
According to a survey conducted by Staples, 74 percent of surveyed employees chose to work remotely to maintain a better work/life balance. Remote employees have families, social lives and other responsibilities; outside of their work environment.
Reduced stress in remote working teams has proven beneficial to leaders that are trying to make their mark. The same study indicates that 69 percent of respondents claimed they suffered from less stress when telecommuting.
A leader should drive a company and its culture to make its employees feel happier. Sixty-five percent of employers that allow employees to work remotely state happier employees, thus improving employee efficiency and boosting their morale.
Balance is essential for maintaining the remote team. One great way to improve employee morale is to promote a healthy balance between work and family.
In EY’s Global Generation research study, they found that within the last 5 years, Millennials have been given an increase in work hours, while they’re trying to start families. Furthermore, according to a study by FlexJobs, 85 percent of Millennials want to work remotely and 67 percent of those Millennials stated that family was the main reason.
There are a number of cost-effective ways to boost employee morale and ensure that your team’s happy and at their most productive. It can be as simple as showing gratitude for your remote team, by rewarding them with praise and allowing them to be promoted within the organization.
When trying to raise the morale of your remote team, remember empathy comes first. Understand them as individuals; who they are; what they’re trying to achieve and build a morale-boosting strategy around that notion.
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