By Adrian Johansen
Remote teams have become a prevalent part of our landscape over the last couple of years. If you’re running a small business, this can be a good approach to gaining the input of international talent. That said, successfully managing a permanently remote team requires some investment.
This is likely to be something you’re wary of. You have a limited amount of capital at your disposal, after all. It may even be the case that you have opted for a remote model to keep overheads down. Yet, failing to act is likely to hurt productivity and the potential for valuable innovation. It can also see you lose money as a result of turnover.
We’re going to review some of the areas you should invest in your remote workers to have an impact on team longevity.
Your first investment consideration should be the practical resources workers need to operate. Your remote staff won’t necessarily have access to all the equipment present in a traditional office environment. The result is a negative impact on their ability to be productive. But it can also lead them to feel unsupported by the company in even basic matters of operation. This is not conducive to a long-lasting relationship.
There is some contention about who should provide basic resources to remote workers. It’s not common for businesses to reimburse remote workers for expenses. Yet, home office equipment, internet connections, and furniture are necessities to function. There is some legislation in place in the event expenses drop below the statutory minimum wage. But anything beyond this isn’t mandatory. Still, workers have a reasonable assumption of fair compensation. This is especially true of resources used solely for company activities.
You need to go beyond what the law requires of you if you want your employees to stay engaged with the business. Take a considerate approach to offer expense reimbursement that reflects their work usage. It’s usually still going to be less than you’d pay for running a full office. Have discussions with workers about what they need. Your investment here can improve worker morale and retention.
While you might be the leader of your organization, it is your remote staff that drives your success. Supporting their continued wellbeing is both an ethical duty and a business imperative. The remote workplace is rife with the potential for mental and physical illness to occur. Some investment here can cut worker harm and the potential costs of absenteeism.
This has to start with providing specific health benefits. Just because remote workers are not on the same premises as you, this doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to employer medical insurance contributions. It’s important to provide access to plans tackling the challenges of remote employees. This should include physiotherapy for issues from sitting too long. Eye care for using screens. Psychological therapy for the potential mental health challenges related to isolation and stress.
Beyond insurance, it’s wise to invest in providing relevant health education. Burnout is common for remote workers. Various clashing aspects of professional and home life are contributing factors. Being able to recognize the early symptoms of burnout is a vital tool to avoid the consequences. Chronic burnout can lead to other, more intense psychological disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Workers must understand that burnout is not just a case of feeling tired. There are also elements like irritability and apathy. Provide workers with insights and materials from public health professionals on these issues. Give remote training on recognizing and dealing with them.
Trust and Respect
There has been a lot of attention of late on implementing systems to monitor remote staff. This is not an area it’s wise to invest in if you expect longevity. Remote staff neither need nor want micromanagement. Rather, it’s best to invest in tools and processes demonstrating your trust. This can in turn lead to you earning their respect and loyalty.
In essence, this is about supporting them to be a productive, collaborative, and self-driven team. It can be difficult to keep a geographically disparate team engaged. But you should establish protocols to strengthen their connections to one another. This can increase their efficacy and morale. You can include simple actions like the clear delegation of assignments. Provide clarity on the roles they play in a project. You should also invest in collaborative online workspaces like interactive whiteboards. This ensures all staff actively contribute to the success of a project.
Beneath this delegation, you need to make sure you have solid communication foundations. Your remote staff wants to know you believe in them, but they don’t want to feel abandoned. You can make this easier by investing in remote project management platforms. These keep tasks visible and make it easy for them to contact you or other team members when needed.
One of the most effective ways to retain employees is through talent development. A recent study found 94% of those polled would stay with a company if it helped them to learn. Yet, this is something too often overlooked in a remote workforce.
You should invest in a structured and remote-friendly talent development program. Design clear paths for progression through the company that are accessible to all your workers. This could include providing funding for online courses. Give them the skills to be more productive and enhance their career opportunities. Part of your investment here should be in paid time off for study and exams. You may also find it effective to offer bonuses for certifications they complete.
Remote teams are becoming more prevalent in the current landscape. To retain your talented workers in this environment, it’s important to make sensible investments in them. This should begin with the resources they need to function. You should then extend to wellness tools, collaborative protocols, and their education. Your employees are the most valuable resource your company has; you need to look after them.