Empowering remote employees wasn’t necessarily a top priority for many businesses two years ago. Even then, though, the trend toward remote work was underway. Nowadays, 62% of employees say that they work remotely, at least occasionally. Considering the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on the way many companies operate, that percentage is probably much higher.
Many businesses struggled with allowing their employees to work remotely. However, embracing our new circumstances (however reluctantly) will help you make the best out of an unforeseen situation. Over the long haul, it will pay off to make sure your employees are not just productive but also happy.
In fact, some organizations have found so much success that they are actively implementing a hybrid remote work structure. Adopting a hybrid structure allows employees to report to the office on staggered shifts while also spending a significant part of their workday at home.
Other businesses even discovered the potential of hiring remote workers from all over the world. Previously, many companies were limited to hiring exclusively from the local pool of talent.
What are the important things to keep in mind as your business moves more staff to remote work? Four essential concerns top the list.
1. Utilize Technology Strategically
Relatively speaking, our enforced migration to remote work in 2020 was successful. The primary reason was that technology had eliminated or minimized many of the drawbacks. For remote work to continue to be an attractive option, companies must implement available technology in a way that matches their needs.
Empowering remote employees must be an ongoing commitment. We now have tools for project management that allow remote teams to collaborate, track projects, assign tasks, and keep everyone updated. This stands in stark contrast to having to manually inform people of what’s happening and what they need to do via endless email chains. Everything can be displayed in an interactive and easy-to-understand dashboard.
Effective collaboration tools enable instantaneous communication and help cut down on distracting noise. Solutions such as Slack enable teams to communicate, share ideas, and get answers quickly. They also offer simple ways to group chat or share files.
Remote teams typically need a cloud storage solution as well. When working remotely, keeping files and media on one person’s hard drive is not a winning management strategy. This is especially true when multiple people need access to the most current version of any document.
Your remote team will also need a communication solution such as Microsoft Teams or Google Meet to hold conferences and face-to-face meetings. There’s only so much that you can discuss through chat. In fact, if your people aren’t careful, a lot of time can be wasted by not recognizing when it’s time to move from chat to real-time conversation. Most companies need a way to meet virtually to hash out important matters in the least amount of time.
These types of tools barely scratch the surface of what’s available today. Nevertheless, they provide a basic framework for substituting traditional elements of in-office work with technology. Business owners should always be on the hunt for ways to make remote work more realistic and manageable.
2. Create a Secure Knowledge Base
One of the biggest advantages of working in an office is the ability to pop into a colleague’s office and quickly get an answer to a question. Remotely, you can write an email or reach out through Slack. Even with these tools, getting a thorough explanation won’t always be easy.
Empowering remote employees means providing them with the information they need when they need it. This is why creating a secure knowledge base is one of the smartest things you can do. A well-designed knowledge base acts as the ultimate learning tool for both customers and staff. People joining your company who aren’t yet fully immersed in your product also benefit. They can quickly understand everything about a topic in a clearly laid out format. The time-draining alternative is forcing them to do the research themselves.
With the help of comprehensive knowledge management software solutions, you can streamline the process of creating the knowledge base. Your goal should be to make it easy for anyone to find the specific piece of information they are looking for.
Over time, you will compile more information and your knowledge base will become more robust. Your employees will have a much easier time working through problems themselves. That way, they’ll need less help from colleagues and superiors. Instead of having to go to someone with questions, they’ll be able to find the answer on their own. This will prove beneficial to everyone in your company.
3. Empowering Remote Workers Means Providing Regular Feedback
When working at home, it’s all too easy to feel detached. There are no colleagues to banter with during break times. Managers don’t drop by for a quick check-in.
Sure, it’s possible to get by communicating with the tools listed above. However, one element that’s often missing is feedback (positive or negative) after accomplishing something. Managers that want to be inclusive and supportive of their remote workers need to check in at regular intervals. They need to make it a point to provide consistent feedback and offer praise for significant achievements.
Even if you can’t offer feedback in person, use the tools you do have to this end. Empowering remote workers can be as simple as writing a quick note through chat. Take the time to send an encouraging email. You might even single people out during a Zoom call with your team. Small gestures can help people feel valued and an integral part of the team, even if they are on the other side of the world.
4. Encourage Work-Life Balance
Maintaining a work-life balance when working remotely can be a challenge. Working from home does have its perks, but it’s also harder to leave work behind after the day ends. One powerful method of empowering remote workers is to make sure they aren’t overcompensating for not being in the office.
For many people, the temptation to wrap up unfinished tasks or sneak in a bit of evening work may be too overwhelming. As time goes by, an inability to balance leads to increased stress, loss of focus, and even burnout. That’s why managers must recognize the unique challenges presented by working remotely. Seek solutions for ensuring that your team members have a healthy work-life balance.
For starters, employers should set clear expectations of what is required and the availability that is needed. In some cases, leaders may need to encourage employees to set boundaries on their workday to avoid stressing out.
It helps enormously to keep the lines of communication open. Regularly check in on remote workers to see how they are doing. When a person isn’t in the office, it’s harder to track how they are coping. It’s always a good idea to ask and make sure everything is fine.
Some employees have a hard time keeping track of their work and staying on top of tasks on time. Setting up a time-tracking system can help recognize the biggest issues and address them. This can end up helping the staff find a better balance in their work.
Leverage the Benefits, Minimize the Difficulties
Remote work offers business owners many opportunities, but it comes bundled with potential issues. Some of these drawbacks, unattended, could end up making employees feel overwhelmed and unhappy. As an employer, your continued focus on empowering remote employees helps others perform at their best, wherever they are. It’s on you to provide them with the tools they need to stay connected and succeed.
Staying on top of the four categories listed above will help you create a stronger connection with your remote teams. They’ll help you establish better work practices and increase employee loyalty. You don’t want your people at a disadvantage simply because they can’t be physically present in the office.