Flexible working is an increasing trend and there’s a lot of research that backs up the reasons why it’s a good thing for businesses and employees alike. But of course, this comes with some caveats and advice. Let’s explore the top 5 tips for improving remote worker productivity:
1. Give them the right tools for the job
When one member of your team is working remotely, their ability to perform the tasks and activities their role requires depends heavily on the tools they use. The remote toolkit includes having a comfortable working environment; such as a good desk and comfortable chair, all the way through to the technology and software they have access to.
For instance, remote workers will need to be securely connected to your business network either through good home broadband or reliable 4/5G connectivity. Remote workers also need remote access to vital central systems like your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and your communications platform. This latter point is especially crucial as, without that link to your business and your customer base, it’s very difficult to perform even basic activities that most remote working demands.
Imagine a field sales rep or field engineer not being able to talk to a customer whilst on route to a site visit, or not being able to access critical information about a case in order to handle a situation successfully. Lacking the right tool in this situation would render that remote worker useless.
2. Keep remote team members aligned and in constant communication with ‘HQ’
Working remotely is not a license to work to your own set of goals. In fact, remote working requires an awful lot of trust and transparency from all parties to work effectively. The key to this is keeping goals aligned and regularly discussing progress towards reaching these goals in an open way.
Technology exists in the marketplace that keeps remote workers connected. This technology facilitates regular team ‘meetings’ (virtual or via conference call for instance) to keep individuals connected to the mother-ship and provide a regular touchpoint for people to share ideas. Equally, it provides a public forum for holding each other accountable. Peer to peer conversation plays a pivotal role in remote worker performance, so ensure that your team is always virtually connected.
3. Monitor and manage performance
As mentioned above, mutual trust is a huge element of successful remote working. One of the key ways to achieve this is to have a consistent way of monitoring activity. Ensure that all parties have access to and can use the same tools to showcase performance.
Unified communications (UC) platforms, for instance, allow for calling activities to be tracked inside of your CRM. This means that a remote team member has a solution for making and reviewing their own calls. With UC, business managers have a way to monitor the leading performance indicators, such as the number of calls made (if you are a sales rep, for instance) and to review each call specifically to ensure the quality of conversation meets with agreed standards.
4. Give regular, meaningful feedback
Performance management data is pointless if you don’t use it to create insight and action. Therefore, regular feedback on an individual’s output and contribution is massively important. It’s another way to ensure communication is transparent and open for both parties. Scheduled time for two-way communication will ensure that this feedback loop is maintained and using the right technology will keep the experience consistent and useful for all stakeholders.
5. Find time for face-to-face communication
As great as the benefits of remote working are (productivity and creativity booster, increasing your talent pool, etc.), there is still nothing that beats face-to-face communication in certain situations. So, make sure that as part of your scheduled communications plan with remote workers, you build in physical meetings. This could be quarterly reviews, for instance, or monthly sales meetings. It should also include invites to any company-wide activities like annual ‘all-company’ events.
As millennials continue to occupy most of our workforce, it is critical that we provide them with the means and support to work effectively from anywhere, any time. There is a growing movement around the notion that work is something you do, not somewhere you go.
The very nature of the traditional workspace is being disrupted, but with the right tools, technology and processes, an organization can create an environment for talent to thrive.