“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie, a renowned Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist
There’s a lot of hard work hidden behind every great accomplishment in the corporate world, and every person involved must be cherished to accentuate the team spirit and productivity. Several studies reveal that strengthening the relationship that employees have with their co-workers and managers can also help in improving their morale, engagement and interaction. Having good friends at our workplace certainly keeps us full of positivity and vigour. This is why, the HR (Human Resource) department always pays attention to involve a myriad of employee engagement activities at every special official event.
Coming up with a full-proof employee engagement strategy for our in-house employees has essentially became a norm. But have you thought about its usefulness in the overall development of your remote employees too? Experienced outsourcers reveal that nurturing both your in-house and remote employees with good management is very important to keep them engaged and running. In fact, you need to double down your efforts (like communicating organizational objectives clearly, spearheading regular team meetings, and taking initiatives to make them feel an inseparable and valuable part of your organization) in order to manage a virtual team well.
You might not be in a state of dealing with remote work right now, but the idea must have crossed your mind, considering the steep surge in WFM (Work from Home) culture and outsourcing due to the pandemic crisis. In such a virtual working model, poorly managed work relationships can be a big reason for the downfall of a business. It won’t just shake your workforce’s morale, and put them under emotional distress, but will also adversely affect your turnover and growth. So, keeping your employees engaged is an important step if your employees are operating from your office, and even if you decide to hire employees in India or other more affordable geographical locations. But in order to design an effective employee engagement strategy for your remote workers, understanding the challenges of the ‘work from home’ culture is mandatory. So, let’s get started!
Challenges of Remote Work Model
Putting employees on a WFH model all of a sudden makes them doubtful about continuation of their employment. This might look like a small issue, but it’s one of the biggest causes of staff attrition or increased absenteeism from work.
Disturbance at Home
Many employees would happily embrace this working model thinking that they will get more time for themselves and their family. It’s an ideal situation if they have a peaceful, non-disruptive working environment (steady internet connection, essential hardware, comfortable sitting) at home. But some of them have larger families or smaller living spaces, which makes it difficult for them to separate their official life from their personal life. As a result, work suffers greatly.
Lack of Discipline/Motivation
We are in a habit of switching to ‘rest mode’ when at home. This is especially true for employees who have no prior experience of working from home. And in the case of problem employees (the ones who simply have no commitment towards their work, but are barely managing to show off while working within an office setup), lack of discipline becomes a more serious problem than ever.
How can Managers Change Remote Staff’s Behaviour?
Keeping your remote employees engaged is a quite demanding endeavour, but for a skilled manager, it’s nothing more than an interesting challenge. The key is to understand that every employee has different set of strengths and weaknesses, so that the resources could be put to the best use for realizing organizational objectives. Here’s what you would need to do:
Get on board to understand the issues that each member of your team has.
Maintain professionalism by keeping a check on your own feelings, emotions and personal opinions.
Foster a culture of excellence, punctuality and communication by setting an example.
Be open to suggestions of your team members to make them feel empowered.
Guide each team member on ways with which they can be more productive from their home environment.
Provide regular training sessions to upskill your team members and resolve their work-related issues.
Be very clear about their success criteria, and discuss improvement with them on a regular basis.
Filter issues related to your team members, so that only critical ones reach the HR desk.
Deal with difficult employees carefully by clarifying your concerns and proposing an action plan.
Ensure that your team has access to all the required tools and equipment for working effectively.
A Good Leader’s Approach
Many managers make the mistake of looking down on the importance of keeping their remote employees engaged. They should remember that they represent their company in front of their remote workforce, and negative or careless behaviour can ruin the entire organization’s reputation in the business world. Hence, it’s suggested to maintain a protocol of connection and collaboration with your offsite employees to empower them to take leadership roles in future. This is what Roy T. Bennett meant when he said “great leaders create more leaders”.
But yes, you need to remember that going ahead with the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ approach while designing your employee engagement strategy can do more harm than good in the long run. Successful team leaders reveal that the best strategy going forward is to manage your offsite employees the same way that you manage your onsite employees. For being able to track their accountability and productivity in a more organized way at the end of the month, you can divide their responsibilities into daily, weekly, and project-based activities.
Keep in mind that one of the biggest drawbacks of choosing to outsource work is delayed response time (it’s not as fast as collaborating with your in-house employees for obvious reasons). So, for business owners planning to outsource, offshore, or hire employees in India, spearheading regular one-on-one meetings is one of the most effective employee engagement activities.
It all begins with recognizing that your team members are your biggest asset. You will soon notice that the employee engagement activities you plan with this mindset are helping your virtual employees get better at work, and helping you in achieving your monthly work goals with unmatched ease.