A recent study by PGi surveyed 3000 workers worldwide and found that 79 per cent work outside the office at least one day a week. Allowing employees to work from home comes with several reported advantages, including increased productivity and lower costs per employee. But these advantages are only possible with the right level of collaboration among employees. Here are some tips to help you improve communication in a remote working environment.
Foster a collaborative culture
For an individual employee to collaborate with co-workers, the overall company culture needs to be set up in a way that nurtures that collaboration. When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously stripped employees of their telecommuting privileges in 2013, an article in Fast Company suggested she could have made the remote work culture successful with a few intentional tweaks, including ensuring workers meet their commitments to the organisation, rather than the time or location from which that progress was made.
One of the key challenges of working remotely can be isolation. This can help some workers feel more productive and get more done in the day, but it can also lead to others feeling lonely and disconnected. If an employee doesn’t see the impact of his or her work in the larger context, it can be hard to muster the motivation to do the best job possible.
However, technology advances such as cloud computing, instant messaging and video conferencing can help your remote employees see the bigger picture and stay connected with their co-workers. Google Hangouts, for example, recently underwent a series of enhancements to make it a better tool for businesses that are serious about communication.
Hire the right people in the first place
In the same way that you hire people with the right skills and qualifications to fill certain roles, you need to find people with the right attributes to fill remote roles. A recent article by the Harvard Business Review encourages employers looking to create a flexible workforce to seek out those with high levels of self-awareness. Understanding our own strengths and weaknesses, the article says, enables us to make the best use of our skills and improves our ability to communicate with others to get the best results possible.
If your organisation has not yet embraced remote working, you could be missing out on the best talent. Of those surveyed by PGi, 60 per cent said they would leave an existing job for a similar one with the same pay rate if it offered the opportunity to work remotely full time. With the right culture, right technologies and right people, your organisation could find the success it’s looking for through a remote working culture.