The benefits of telecommuting are plenty — enhanced employee satisfaction and productivity, reduced costs, more flexibility to name a few. Lending further weight to it is a recent study by Stanford University that reveals people who work full-time from home are over 12 percent more efficient than those who don't.
However, a major shortcoming of telecommuting is that remote workers do not get a chance to interact more often with their co-workers and colleagues, which often leads to a feeling of isolation and disconnect from the happenings in the office. The question that arises then is - how can you make your remote workers feel empowered and a part of the team and company fully even when they do not come to office regularly?
We have listed below 3 tips that can help your remote worker overcome the feeling of isolation and being cut off from office proceedings:
1. Video not something to be scared of
What happened in your last conference call? Chances are that you and most probably others as well were not paying much attention to the proceedings. In all probability, your mind was distracted by mails, messages, or something else. Now you will agree that videos carry no such possibilities of half-engagement. The fact that you are being closely watched and monitored continues to play on your mind, compelling you to pay undivided attention to what is going on. "Phone conferences allow employees to slack off in appearance, how much they prepare and even how much they participate," said Luis Ramirez, Director of Sales for Latin America and Caribbean at InterCall and who remotely manages everyone in his team. "This is one reason I use video as my primary communication tool. It forces team members to look presentable, be at their desk and prepared for each meeting because their boss and/or client is looking directly at them. They're not able to get away with common mishaps that can occur with regular conference calls," said Ramirez.
2. Get personal
Advancements in technology lead to better and more personal interactions amongst employees. However, there is no denying the fact that it is not the same as connecting with someone in person. The absence of personal interaction with their colleagues in office is the primary reason remote workers feel isolated and totally cut off from the real action. This is the reason it is strongly recommended that managers make a conscious effort to know their employees and team members. There is no hard-and-fast rule about having only work-related video conferences. It can be just a one-to-one session to get more personal and friendly with the person present on the other side of the screen. Regulation interactions via videos will eliminate feelings of seclusion and aloofness. "I start every meeting I have with my sales reps getting caught up on what's going on with them outside of the office," said Ramirez. "Whether it's sharing a story from a recent vacation I took or quickly hearing how their newborn is doing, even just a few minutes of chit-chat at the start of every meeting allows me get to know my staff on a more personal level – something that would most likely naturally happen if we worked in the same office."
3. Never lose sight of the big picture
It is important that you make your remote workers feel they are an integral part of the organization. You need to instill this feeling in them that their work is critical to the organization's short- as well as long-term success. As a leader and manager, it is your responsibility and duty to help virtual employees understand the company's goals and where they fit in the bigger picture.
Hiring remote employees is a very prudent decision as they help get jobs done at affordable rates. You are spared additional costs like those pertaining to health care, taxes, and office equipment as you only pay for the services rendered. You can get in touch with a quality virtual staffing company to hire qualified and competent professionals who charge less as they are offered the luxury of working from home.