he culture of freelance work is expanding year on year, with remote employees now fulfilling the more classic office-based roles of the past.
Whatever your choice – a freelancer or a full-time remote employee, you will have to ensure that they are treated with the same regard as your office-based staff. It is up to you to keep them happy, satisfied, focused and motivated. They are an intrinsic part of your team and as such, your team’s success.
Free and remote, the problem is in the title.
How is it possible for freelance or remote employees to feel part of a close-knit office environment? Is it necessary to use employee GPS tracking systems? Is it possible for them to experience firsthand the positive, family-like workplace culture that you have worked so hard to nurture?
They are not going to the Christmas office party or any HR team building sessions. Even the banal office team meeting is out of the question. Let’s be honest, they will probably never step foot in your office.
So, the question arises, how are remote employees encouraged to be productive, motivated, and oriented toward team success within the confines of the standard business model?
Employ team collaboration tools and apps
Team collaboration platforms like Slack, ActiveCollab or Microsoft Teams are becoming more and more popular in response to the increase of people now working from home. Many companies now employ a noticeable percentage of remote employees, whether freelancer or permanent team member working remotely.
In order to keep in line with this new workforce paradigm, you will need to use a team collaboration platform. These platforms simplify communication, are excellent for clear goal overviews and are made specifically for teams with remote members.
By using a team collaboration app, you and your employees have a powerful tool at your disposal. Team members can now coordinate and communicate with individual employees, discussing anything from the latest project to work-related problems. These apps help to make announcements and presentations and help with remote team meetings.
All in all, improving team productivity and efficiency.
The internet is the most powerful work tool of them all and team collaboration tools have refined how to use the internet to your best advantage by employing work platforms that offer a huge set of tools helping you, the employer, and your remote employees. These apps are nonpareil for companies employing remote workers.
Nurture a goal-oriented business model
A goal-oriented business model is great; clarifying what is expected of everyone and what a company’s goals are. By employing a goal-oriented business model your employees, both office and remote will know exactly what is expected of them in order to make your company more successful and profitable.
This is especially important for your remote employees. They cannot experience firsthand your office culture and therefore will not know the intrinsic details of the goals you and your team are striving to achieve.
The final objective may be somehow lost on them, especially if they feel ostracized or neglected in any way. Set out your goals and share them, encouraging your employees to take them on board. The company’s success is their success.
Competitions are also a great strategy to help keep your employees motivated and focused on achieving company goals. You should always nurture healthy competition, for example, assign clear goals to all employees including remote and freelance with clear rewards available to all who succeed.
By clearly stating daily, weekly or monthly goals your remote employees will receive regular guidance on what they can do to help make your and their company better. By making them compete with other workers they will feel like a part of the office group and may even make friends within this group, in turn becoming more motivated and productive.
Do not forget about your remote employees when giving pay increases, holiday, and productivity bonuses
If employing a goal-oriented strategy at your company you must offer your employees some form of extrinsic motivation – pay rise, bonus, and public recognition. Money speaks volumes and a good word regarding your work to your peers won’t hurt either.
And, as with everything else, when it comes to rewarding employees don’t forget your remote workers. They should also receive positive feedback, be part of team competitions, receive pay increases and bonuses, and be chosen as employee of the month.
By using your team collaboration platform of choice as the main hub for
- expressing public recognition,
- awarding bonuses,
- announcing pay increases,
- not doing this via company email or team meetings (which cannot be attended or at least cannot be attended firsthand by remote employees).
You will show your remote workforce that they are members of the team and that you are willing to go that extra mile to make them feel appreciated.
Help your remote employees feel that they are an essential part of your firm
If possible assign an HR manager solely responsible for your remote employees: one
- who will care about their needs;
- who will be there to listen to their complaints;
- work hard to work on their issues.
- Create a special channel on your communication platform for remote employees.
- Let their HR representative provide regular feedback regarding their suggestions.
- And make sure to encourage them to talk about problems and to come up with potential solutions.
Working remotely is quite different than working from an office. It has its own set of unique problems that HR managers or office employees may not understand. So, two-way communication is vital.
Be available for communication at all times
Your remote employees may be scattered to the four corners of the earth and time differences may be a huge problem, but this problem is not insurmountable. And it should not be used as an excuse to simply ignore an employee’s questions or requests.
- Set up your email account to send automatic responses during off hours assuring employees you will respond to their emails as soon you become available. A simple step that can mean a lot.
- Create a special communication channel in your team collaboration platform reserved for queries during off hours in your time zone. So, remote employees who work in different time zones can have a regular communication channel where they can submit their questions and their work no matter the time.
- Answer employees as soon as possible. If remote employees try to communicate with you during work hours in your time zone, thus meaning they are ready to sacrifice their free time in order to catch you while working, make sure to answer their inquiries as soon as possible. Also, your HR managers should follow your example and do the same.
Do not forget you have workers from all around the world
This different time zone problem goes both ways. Never forget your remote employees operate at different work hours to you. Do not expect them to answer you right away if you send them a message at 4 am their time.
You and your HR managers should know the work hours of each of your remote employee in order to communicate effectively and during their work hours, if possible.
It is impossible to choose a time suitable for every remote employee when scheduling team meetings. The best you can do is to try scheduling meetings at times when most of your remote workers can attend. And do not make those meetings mandatory for remote employees. In most cases, meetings will take place during their off hours. They should not be penalized for not attending a meeting at 2 am.
Organize remote employee-exclusive work meetings
Instead of making all work meetings mandatory for your remote employees, perhaps, create special meetings exclusively for remote employees.
Group them according to their time zones and show them you care about them. These meetings should not be as long or as detailed as classic work meetings, especially if they take place during off hours in your time zone. Simply go over their work schedule, discuss goals, and make them feel like they are on the same level as your office employees.
By creating remote employee-exclusive meetings
- you will show that they are important members of your organization;
- it will give them extra motivation;
- make them care about the company more;
- ultimately make them more efficient and productive.
It’s great when employees know that their boss cares about them, and these exclusive meetings are a good way of putting words into actions.
If possible, create work teams made out of both remote and office-based employees
Creating work teams made of both office-based and remote employees can increase cohesion between employees and make remote workers feel like an essential part of your company.
Collaboration and communication between remote employees and office-based workers will improve and ultimately mixed teams will improve the work culture in your office. It will increase the level of satisfaction among employees.
Of course, in some cases creating mixed teams may not be possible depending on a number of factors, including – tight deadlines, specific client desires, external client meetings etc. If not possible do not push it.
Employees, remote or otherwise, recognize and respect what is important to an employer, client, and project.
People strive to be productive and hope to be motivated. Team success is one of the utmost. And a happy, appreciated employee will strive for this no matter the geographical, time or language barrier.