Across businesses of all sizes, it’s becoming more common for people to work remotely. This has some definite advantages – but it can also be tricky to keep remote workers motivated and productive.
Remote working on the rise
In South Africa, a survey by Dimension Data found that as many as 42% of large organisations have some employees working from home full-time. In small businesses and startups, the figures may be much higher.
Another survey found that 56% of South Africans regularly telecommute.
Trends are similar elsewhere. For example, The New York Times reported that 43% of US workers spend at least some time working remotely. It also reported a 7% increase in the number of people working from home for either four or five days a week, from 2012 to 2016.
Advantages of working remotely
Working remotely gives people greater flexibility and independence. It also cuts out the time, costs and frustration of having to commute.
A leading research firm, Leadership IQ, found that 45% of remote workers were happy in their jobs. This compared to only 24% of office workers.
For businesses, having remote workers also saves operating costs. A study by Global Workplace Analytics found that remote workers can save companies up to US$11,000 per year.
The challenges of remote working
For employees and organisations, remote working can pose challenges such as:
- lack of oversight
- personal isolation
- reduced communication
- lack of motivation
- increased distractions.
All of these issues can be tackled in various ways, but one of the hardest ones to overcome is a lack of motivation. We look at some of the ways that businesses can help keep remote workers motivated.
1 | Use effective communication tools
Effective communication is vital in any company, but it becomes even more so when employees work remotely.
Online tools offer a number of ways to communicate with remote workers. These include chat applications, productivity tracking and task assignment tools and video or voice conferencing.
2 | Don’t time track
Tracking your employees’ time might seem sensible, but it can make remote workers feel micromanaged.
Rather do productivity tracking, where you measure how much they’re getting done each week or month.
Regular meetings are also a good way to make sure they still understand the company’s expectations and are confident they can deliver on them.
3 | Make sure they have a good work environment
An uncomfortable work environment, whether at home or in the office, will negatively affect productivity.
Make sure your remote employees have a proper set up with a desk and a comfortable chair. Some companies even help remote workers set up their home office through a stipend.
4 | Establish ground rules
Right from the start, both the company and the employee need to understand and adhere to the parameters of the arrangement.
Discuss and agree on things like working hours, flexibility, reporting and meetings.
5 | Set clear expectations
Without constant access to their supervisor or manager, remote workers need to understand their key duties and responsibilities completely.
There must be no question or confusion as to what their responsibilities are or what they should be delivering each month.
6 | Offer professional development
Learning helps remote workers feel more confident in their abilities and motivates them to be more proactive.
Offer opportunities to do online courses or attend local workshops that will augment their knowledge and expand their expertise.
7 | Keep employees in the loop
Remote workers may feel a bit disconnected from an organisation’s progress and goals. Make sure to keep them informed of company changes and progress, and reassure them that they’re part of the team.
If there are any strategic meetings or presentations, find a way to include them via video conferencing or Facetime.
At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking, ideal for teams that include remote workers and for freelancers and independent contractors. For more information or to book a tour of one of our branches, call us on 0861 250 259 or contact us online.