Flexible working is edging closer towards the norm, with approximately 43% of employees now working remotely at least some of the time, according to a recent Gallup study. If we add to this percentage non-office based employees working outside of the conventional office setting i.e. firefighters, paramedics, sales reps, a high number of staff that could be totally cut off and disengaged from the workplace. This leads us to the question: are your remote staff engaged in the workplace?
Flexible working offers employees the advantage of freedom and autonomy. This, in turn, has been shown to increase levels of engagement and productivity. However, on the flip-side would be the benefits of collaboration and camaraderie employees can feel when present in the workplace.
This may seem obvious but keeping the lines of communication open at all times is important. Ideally, we would be having a weekly one-to-one with our staff but this may not be practical. Technology has revolutionised the way we communicate, offering us numerous alternatives to face-to-face communication. These include video calls, email, mobile messenger/call services, social media and HR software. Clearly, the effectiveness of these communication lines vary depending on the nature of the conversation held and the technology used. For example, video calls are ideal when team meetings are being held with people remotely.
Using a Performance Management System like Actus Software, you can open up the lines of communication. This can be achieved by setting company-wide, team or individual objectives within the system and showcasing your company values. Whatsmore, Actus records virtual one-to-ones, so staff can system record items to be raised with others who can respond in their own time. This provides a useful audit trail of dialogue within a flexible tool that can be used on the move.
In the physical workplace, it is much easier to recognise a member of staff that has done well. For example, by ringing the office sales bell when a deal comes through, or personally thanking a colleague during lunch for their help. Amongst a strong organisational culture, these types of behaviours should be fairly common, however, recognition is harder to share with remote workers. For a start, a remote staff’s work may be less visible and therefore their achievements may be too. This relates to our earlier point about the importance of communication and the use of technology as the next best alternative. A performance appraisal system like Actus, that allows the whole organisation to recognise each other could be the answer.
The Actus Recognition Module pulls through the organisation’s core values for employees to recognise a colleague against. It also provides an audit trail of the recognition given, ideal for appraisal time when staff are up for review.
Holding regular events where everyone can participate in presents the ideal opportunity to build engagement amongst staff that may not otherwise interact. Whether a formal conference, team building exercise or casual pub lunch, these can all engage and motivate. Events also provide the opportunity for colleagues to share information and learn from each other.
It is important that staff feel that they have the right resources to carry out their job effectively outside of the main workplace. An employee working from home would need a laptop with the right software and access rights. A sales rep working across numerous territories would need to be well-equipped with marketing collateral and a mobile phone with a list of important contacts they may need.
Employees that report back to their managers using a performance management system require access to a mobile-friendly, intuitive and easy to use software, otherwise, they would struggle to use the system effectively whilst on the move. Without such key resources in place, employees are likely to feel frustrated and unable to carry out their jobs effectively.
Above we have outlined ways to keep remote workers engaged, with an emphasis on technology playing a key role. The benefits of flexible working are plentiful – for employers they tick the flexible benefits box, can save on resources and enhance productivity. For employees, they face fewer distractions and even reduce their chances of becoming ill from contagious colleagues! Furthermore, in some industries, the very nature of someone’s job means that they must work remotely. It is, however, important to recognise that technology can facilitate but not replace the need for human interaction in the workplace, at least from time to time.