As the workspace evolves and the digital workplace grows in popularity, leaders face a new set of challenges: nurturing and supporting a team composed of both office-based and remote employees. While the flexibility of these new, more modern work styles have proved to enhance productivity, drive creativity and allow businesses to employ the sorts of rock stars they’d never reach if they were limited by geography, overseeing this type of staff can be a struggle for even the most adept leaders. And it can be frustrating for their employees, too.
To help your business thrive and ensure leaders can provide the management your remote and non-remote workforce needs, we’re sharing several tips we know will make everyone’s lives a little easier.
1. Schedule Time to Chat
When you’re sitting next to your direct reports, communication is fluid and natural. You’re up to date on everything from which restaurant they visited last weekend to which project is really stressing them out. But when you’re not physically in front of an employee, leaders need to go the extra mile.
To ensure everyone is getting equal one-on-one attention, schedule time to chat with each and every one of your team members and add it to your calendar. For remote-based employees, increase the frequency of these conversations to at least twice a week. And don’t just focus on work—make sure you take time for small talk and the sorts of lighthearted chats that build trust and rapport.
2. Send Physical Tokens of Appreciation
In-office employees get to enjoy things like free snacks, fresh coffee and holiday treats. While most remote employees understand this aspect of office life is something they’re trading for the flexibility of remote work, it doesn’t mean they should always be excluded. When you decide to reward your team with a pizza party or box of doughnuts, send a little treat to your remote employees, too, so everyone can enjoy together.
3. Hold Regular Team Meetings
While conflicting time zones and overfilled calendars can make it difficult to schedule an all-hands meeting, make sure to do so at least twice a month—even if just for 15 to 20 minutes. Make use of video calling so team members can see one another’s faces. Chat about challenges, current projects and recognize milestones as a group.
4. Invest in Top-Quality Software and Technology
If even a small portion of your team works outside your office, you need to ensure you’ve armed them with the most reliable software and technology available. If you’re relying on outdated or cheap equipment, or expecting email alone to fulfill your communication needs, you need to reconsider. While unreliable technology and poor online communication habits are frustrating and threaten productivity in the office, these things can push a remote employee to leave the company.
User-friendly project management solutions, reliable hardware, collaboration tools and streamlined communication are a must for nurturing both in-office and remote employees.
5. Manage Your Space for Everyone
In some cases, you may have employees who work in-office at varying degrees. Some may come in a few times a week, a few times a month or just a few times a year. Make sure that whenever they come to the office they feel at home. Utilize room reservation software so your team members can easily book a desk, an office or a conference room whenever they need it.
To make sure you’re using space efficiently and not wasting regularly open spots, implement a space management solution. This way, facilities leaders can optimize space to ensure there is plenty to go around.
6. Promote Autonomy, Not Workaholism
Whether you’re working remote or in office, flexible schedules have their downsides. Sometimes employees feel that because they are always digitally connected and able to work at any hour, they should be responding to all emails and requests immediately. Often remote employees may feel guilty for enjoying a long lunch or even disconnecting during a vacation, and worried their manager will assume they’re taking advantage of the system.
To ensure your remote and non-remote employees aren’t working themselves into burnout, check in on their workload and work hours regularly. Make sure they’re able to enjoy a comfortable work-life balance. While the independence and flexibility of working remote has many benefits, working alone can make it hard to impose the sorts of structure enjoyed by office-based team members.
Even the best leaders face challenges that seem impossible to overcome, and bringing together your remote employees and your office-based team members can sometimes feel hopeless. But by sticking to the six practices mentioned above, you can make your life easier and create a better experience for all employees.
Want to learn more ways you can leverage technology to bolster team productivity? Check out our free guide, 4 Ways Innovative Leaders Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve.