Remote workers


24th January, 2019

5 tips for keeping remote staff motivated

So you want to offer your workers the chance to operate remotely but you’re unsure if you can trust them to do the right thing? The answer is a combination of tech and good management practices.

The concept of flexible working continues to merge into mainstream workstyles and as a result, delegating work tasks to people working outside of a physical office space has become popular among small business owners.

While there are clear benefits to creating a business culture that’s amenable to workplace flexibility, there’s no denying that managing remote staff is far more difficult than doing so when they’re physically sitting in the office.

READ: How flexible work arrangements can improve your business

One of the key challenges of delegating these tasks to people who work remotely is ensuring that work is being done as it should be, while making sure that workers don’t feel micromanaged.

But, there are some ways through which business owners can ‘keep an eye’ on their remote staff, while staying away from becoming the dreaded overbearing and micromanaging boss.

1. Good communication

The key to a good relationship is communication. Remote working is no different.

According to Adam Stone, founder of Speedlancer, the biggest issue is not knowing if or when the remote worker is running late on completing their task before the deadline.

To ensure that business owners don’t end up losing sight of where the remote worker is up to, Stone suggests keeping communication channels open with “over-active and friendly rapport” as a sure-fire method to maintaining oversight.

By keeping the communication channels flowing with supportive and open discussion, chances are that your remote staff will feel more comfortable to keep you in the loop about their progress.

2. Avoid overwhelming your remote staff

If someone chooses to work remotely, there’s a good chance that they have other commitments that they need to stay on top of as well.

It is important to remember that when delegating tasks to an offsite worker, care must be taken to not overwhelm them by giving them too much to do in too short a short a timeframe.

When asked how to avoid making this mistake, Stone told The Pulse that it is better to hand-ball the work to someone else if you feel that your remote resource is being overwhelmed.

“Develop a healthy understanding of the remote worker’s capability and recognise when it is time to send the work elsewhere,” said Stone.

3. Use technology to track progress

Aside from the more common methods of communication that businesses tend to use (like emails, Slack channels, WhatsApp groups and so on), there are some great tech platforms that help business owners monitor the progress of their remote employees.

If you’ve delegated some of your sales work to someone working remotely, the use of Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) like Salesforce can play a big role in keeping track of your employees’ progress.

For those who delegate technical work to people working remotely, platforms like Trello can be very useful in monitoring the status of technical projects and in keeping track of how employees are progressing with their particular tasks.

READ: Is the future of work… less work?

In the event that you’re delegating various types of tasks to people working in different countries, Stone suggested that the use of an online “concierge” service that manages the relationship for you can play a big role in keeping remote workers productive.

4. Always leave enough time

Delegating a task to a remote worker with an extremely short deadline is like booking a flight with a very tight connection.

When it comes to tight flight connections, even the slightest delay can have a significant impact on the traveller making it to their next flight.

Therefore, smart travellers will always leave enough time in between their connecting flights in anticipation for some sort of unexpected delay.

According to Stone, the same rules apply when setting up a remote workforce.

“Ultimately things do go wrong with a remote workforce but ensuring that someone is not put out by crazy delays is most critical,” Stone said.

So, depending on what it is that you’re delegating, make sure that you give your remote workers ample time to complete the work while factoring in potential delays.

5. Keep staff incentivised

A good way to keep all of your staff motivated and empowered to work hard is by offering them various incentives on top of their standard wage/remuneration.

Having a good incentive system is particularly important for staff who choose to work remotely, as they need all the motivation that they can get.

Whether it be an increase on their payment if they finish the work before the deadline, a percentage of the revenue that they brought in, or even being offered a “day-in-lieu” if they meet certain targets – incentives are a great way to increase the drive and productivity of your remote workforce.

It all comes down to the result. Finding a way to keep your staff driven to work productively even when they’re working from afar will ensure that regardless of where your employees may be, the business’ results will remain at a high standard.

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