Employees and their bosses alike find a lot to like about remote and hybrid work.
Employers, for instance, benefit from hiring anywhere in the world and replacing workplace perks with a flexible work culture to attract and retain top performers.
For their part, 50% of employees prefer a hybrid work; another 20% would rather work from home full time. Avoiding commutes, enjoying better mental and physical health, striking a better work-life balance, and having options are cited as the top reasons for outside-the-office preferences.
Still, for all the benefits, there are potential costs: disengagement and isolation, missed deadlines, poor communication, sub-standard work quality, and distractions can all roll up into a productivity hit.
Before those red flags start popping up, consider these tips for keeping your remote and hybrid employees motivated, inspired, and pulling in the same direction.
Set Clear Objectives
SMART goals—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely—take on added importance in the remote-work culture. Employees are essentially working on their own, and unless expectations are communicated clearly and regularly, they may drift off course.
Beware of micromanaging, however. That is an instant de-motivator. Instead, build workers’ confidence by giving them clear targets, milestones, timelines, and regular check-ins and feedback, then turn them loose. Adjust as necessary, but there should be no surprises when evaluation time rolls around.
Ramp Up Your Technology and Tools
A reliable computer and internet connection, webcam, and microphone are just the beginning of a productive remote work environment. A dedicated instant-messaging and email client are essential to effective communication. Shared cloud storage space, collaboration, and work-flow platforms give employees access to team and individual timelines. And all must be wrapped in a cybersecure cocoon of VPN, antivirus, firewalls, password managers, and two-step authentication.
Keeping your remote workforce up and running requires access to a technical support help desk to resolve equipment, software, and network issues. Provide regular training and education to remote workers on IT best practices, including cybersecurity awareness, data privacy, and software updates.
Double Up on The Trust Factor
Some employees don’t adjust to the remote work model. If they don’t have a hybrid option, they may feel isolated, which can affect the morale of your team. Resist the impulse to micromanage those workers into productivity. They’ll take that to mean you distrust their intentions and capabilities. Instead, try performance management systems for evaluating employees instead of fixating on perceived performance problems.
Recognition for good work keeps remote productivity levels on track. It enhances employee motivation, loyalty, and retention, which are the key concerns for modern organizations. Find creative ways to incentivize performers, such as giving them a paid vacation or rewarding them with verbal appreciation.
You need not spend a fortune on rewards, but if you have the budget, human resources consultants say springing for technology upgrades—an extra monitor or better headphones, for instance—an ergonomic chair, education opportunities, and vouchers for restaurants or shopping go a long, long way to keeping employee morale in the zone.
Look For Red Flags
People working out of the office have unique challenges and concerns, such as tech glitches, security apprehension, and communication gaps. They may not even realize these challenges or shy away from bringing them up. Be alert to the warning signs. Better yet, try these suggestions to keep your remote and hybrid workers happy, healthy, and productive.