Flexible working styles are on the increase. Is your organization equipped to handle the transition?
According to a 2017 study by Upwork and market research firm IDC, nearly 50% of the American workforce will be remote by 2027. Getting these virtual team members up to speed and maintaining their optimal performance can be challenging. Remote employees can easily develop bad habits if they’re not adequately trained and provided with proper direction from the start. Ongoing development and feedback is also important to ensure that virtual staff members are aligned with the team and don’t lose sight of their goals. Feelings of isolation aren’t uncommon and it can be hard for managers to keep remote workers motivated, informed and engaged.
Here are four helpful pointers to get your far-flung employees performing well for the long haul.
Hire smart and screen carefully.
Remote workers need to have multiple skill sets: the job skills relevant to the role at hand, as well as a demonstrated ability to be productive while working away from others. You may find a perfect candidate on paper, but it can be a risky hire if all of their experience involves working in a conventional on-site employment setting. Ideally, your candidate should be someone with excellent skills for the position as well as experience with long-distance employment. Seek out independent self-starters who understand how to operate under a set of work expectations. Those who are strong communicators and are able to work well with others, even in virtual situations, will likely be assets to your remote workforce. Be sure to include reference checks to confirm that the potential employee functions well with limited supervision, has good initiative, and can stay on task without a manager looking over their shoulder.
Provide a balance of self-guided and interactive training.
As you plan your training schedule, evaluate which topics are best to cover in interactive group sessions and which are better to review individually. Topics such as policies and processes can be studied independently. Skills training and sharing best practices, on the other hand, are generally better suited for interactive group sessions. Post-training assessment and feedback should also be part of the process. Watching a webinar doesn’t necessarily equate to mastering the material. Incorporate evaluation tools such as quizzes or worksheets that can be accessed and submitted remotely to measure comprehension.
Foster communication with your remote workers.
There are many tools available to support the manager/employee connection, even if your team isn’t onsite. Instant messaging, Skype, Slack, Screenhero, Trello, and many other IT solutions can bring workers together, no matter where they’re located. Virtual managers should use some or all of these tools on a regular basis to nurture collaboration and connectedness.
Remember that nothing beats in-person interaction.
Personal relationships and communication are best built face-to-face, so plan to have new remote staff members spend their first few days on-site at your location. For employees, it’s a chance to establish a positive bond with supervisors and team mates. For managers, it’s an opportunity to convey the company culture and set expectations. Be sure to schedule times throughout the year when the whole team gets together for in-person training. And keep these events fun! For example, you might arrange a half-day of training, updates, and announcements each quarter. These occasions could also be used to celebrate key events like company anniversaries, enjoy staff dinners, or engage in fun team-building exercises.
Don’t stop ongoing development efforts.
Even if your entire workforce is offsite, you still need to continuously emphasize the framework of your organization’s mission and values. The best way to reinforce company culture is through frequent training sessions. Remote workers in particular need to feel connected to the company’s mission and to the people they work with. Training and development initiatives are a key part of this effort, so make sure you build a training program for your remote workforce that keeps your culture front and center.
The benefits that remote work provides in terms of accessing a larger pool of talent and providing a desirable work experience can be huge for your business.
With the right training and development structures in place, you can help your virtual staff reach their fullest potential, regardless of their location. For over 20 years, The HR Team has guided companies through the design of quality training programs for their onsite and remote employees, and we would be honored to help your organization, too. Please reach out to our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.