Despite the best attempts of many a major brand trying to rein them back in, the advent of remote working has established a new working normal for a great number of professionals. If you’re not as interested in trying to pull them into an office, then the other direction you can take is to help them be more effective, more independent, and yet more supported.
Whether your team is working in home offices in various locations, or they’re on the road, providing your services to clients, you want to take the time to empower them and ensure that they’re on the right track. The following tips can help you do that.
Hire those with remote history
When you’re looking to expand your team, then you should be sure to find those who have experience working in the kind of dynamic that you want to continue. Although remote working is still new for a lot of workers, you should pay specific attention to those who might have experience working remotely before, as they might be less likely to go through the “growing pains” of being self-directed at work. Of course, the type of remote work they have done, matters, as well, as if you’re hiring a delivery driver, field technician, or otherwise, you might want to look for experience in dealing directly with clients, too.
Make sure that you onboard them properly
It takes more than just remote experience to ensure that the new members of your team are correctly aligned with the way that you want to run things. You should make sure that you’re able to deliver a good idea of your team’s vision, as well as the broader objectives that you are trying to accomplish. A thorough onboarding process may be able to help you do this. This can be done virtually, through videos and Facetime interviews, for instance. Helping your team members better understand the direction and values of the company can help them better represent it, as well, especially with any customers.
Track the right metrics for productivity
You want to get a good idea that your remote workers are doing their job well. Aside from having weekly meetings to check in with what they’re doing and what progress they have made over the past seven days, you might want to set up a range of key performance indicators that you can use to get an idea of their workflow at a glance. Think about which KPIs to track, and what they are supposed to be indicators of. If you find any workers falling behind in their KPI, talk to them about why this is. KPIs are not perfect, if a worker is spending a lot of time working on a single project at your direction, some tracked KPIs may suffer. You have to use nuance, not follow them blindly.
Talk scheduling strategy with them
How your team makes use of their time can, in some respects, be left up to them. Providing them with the flexibility to tackle their work how they prefer, and they’re likely to find some working routines that suit them well. However, that said, you can at least offer them some tips on how to schedule their work more effectively. For instance, you can share scheduling tips such as splitting their day up into blocks of time and dedicating blocks to specific tasks, or how batching tasks that require similar processes or skills can help them get through them easier and faster. You don’t have to enforce any scheduling rules unless it’s necessary, but some direction might be more welcome than you would think.
Recognize and reward the good they do
Remote working does come with some drawbacks, one of the chief amongst them being that often workers do not feel the benefits of a job well done beyond their pay. Motivation is a complex thing, and it does require some human reinforcement from time to time. As such, it’s important to recognize when they do something like complete a complicated task, directly assist a customer, perform to a high standard, or otherwise play a big helping role during some sort of joint project. Consider using a rewards system to help motivate and reward those who do well in your work, and reach out to say thanks directly.
Help them continue to develop
If you want to empower your team to be able to do more and to be more competent, confident, and capable in their work, then you should be focusing on building that within them. Aside from rewarding them and recognizing their good work is to provides them with opportunities to train, build new skills, and expand their responsibilities to create the career pathway that they want. Remote worker training takes a little extra wrangling, as you might need to find courses or trainers that you can deploy in different locations or digitally, but it is well worth doing for creating the skilled, knowledgable team that’s going to carry your business to ongoing future success.
Give them the tools to be more self-sufficient
The better that your workers are able to operate independently, the more that they are able to get done without checking back in at the office. Of course, some degree of trust has to be earned, but your key workers should be given the tools necessary to do more throughout their day if they have proven that they can be trusted with the responsibility. For instance, with field service quoting software, it can be a lot easier for them to create, manage, and deliver quotes on the field, rather than having to send the details of a job back to the office to have it done for them. Not only does it allow them to be more productive, but it frees up the office team or other interfacing team members for other duties, too.
Consider technologies that might improve how they work
If you have workers out and about who are performing complex tasks, carrying out services in the field, or working directly on the properties of clients, then you have to be sure to equip them with the technology that they need to complete those tasks as effectively as possible. Otherwise, the pressure to meet the standards of the business can result in sub-par work, or decreasing motivation and productivity. Consider the technology that is designed specific to the tasks that they carry out, and how much they can improve their productivity or reduce the stress of the work that they have to do.
Offer the room for feedback
One of the other potential weaknesses of the remote team is that the companies aren’t always able to benefit from the wisdom, viewpoints, and experience of their workers. People who are delivering services for your clients are going to have perspectives that you want to make sure you incorporate when reviewing how you work. To that end, you should consider implementing a feedback system that allows them to easily flag any issues or raise any questions that could either be handled privately or made the point of a team meeting. Furthermore, you have to encourage them to make use of it and let them know that you are open to feedback so that they do not have any concerns about “rocking the boat.”
Be ready to provide real-time assistance
Good communication tools should allow your remote workers to be able to reach you at any time, and you might not necessarily need to be there for every question or support request that they have but you should definitely ensure that when they need you in real-time, you or a member of the central office team is there to help. This can be done by ensuring a set period of time in which the office team will be available for direct assistance, as well as the use of remote conferencing software. Depending on how remote your team gets, you might even want to provide them with internet hotspot technology so that they are better able to get back in touch with the team in the office.
Trust them to represent the brand
If you have remote workers, they should be included as members of the team, not just in the sense of soliciting their feedback and giving them the opportunity to do more for you, but a part of the brand, as well. Establishing their authority to represent the brand can help them interface with clients better. This can include providing them with a company uniform, branded clothing, business cards, and more. Not only is it going to ease the customer to feel like they are working with a member of your team, rather than a third-party acting on your behalf, but it’s also going to empower your employees with a sense of belonging.
If remote working is how your business is going to proceed, then you need to make sure that you’re using its strengths to your advantage. The tips above can help you do that.