According to a recent study, the mobile workforce has increased by 140% since 2005, with more professionals than ever now looking for remote roles or the ability to work from home several days a week. There are a number of reasons for this, either so they can travel, be with their families or save on their commute - but whatever the reason, it’s clear that businesses have had to adapt to meet the changing needs of their workforce. It’s now estimated that 66% of employers offer remote working opportunities and 16% of businesses are entirely remote.
If your workforce is already mobile or you're considering offering remote opportunities in your business, you might be faced with a dilemma ‘how can you keep your remote workers connected and productive?’ This is one of the biggest concerns for those managing remote teams or individuals. After all, you don't want your remote employees to feel isolated or that they're not a valued member of the team.
For this reason, intelligent collaboration and building a culture of communication is absolutely key. But how can you keep your mobile workforce connected, productive and engaged?
Keep the lines of communication open
Firstly, you need to make sure you’ve got the tools in place to allow remote workers to regularly communicate with their teams and employer. Whether this is via phone, email, instant messenger or video call, communication needs to be easy for your mobile workforce. You should also consider collaboration portals or unified messaging to help your teams stay connected with one another, whether the team is completely remote or only partially.
What’s more, depending on the locations of your offices and/or workers, your remote staff might also be dealing with different time zones. In this case, instant messaging, emails and collaboration portals are going to be key for allowing your teams to communicate with one another effectively, no matter where they are in the world.
One thing’s for sure, whatever your preferred method, it’s important to remember that communica-tion is absolutely key to productivity, so it’s important that you get these systems or means of communication in place right away. This will help to keep your mobile workforce productive and connected.
Make time for face-to-face meetings
Despite technology making it easier than ever to stay connected, you can never replace the value of actual face time (and no we don’t mean the app). When you’ve got big projects or important news to discuss it can be a good idea to arrange a face-to-face meetings with your remote workers. This can help to stop them feeling isolated, as well as helping to get things done more efficiently. It also gives employees a nice chance to catch up with one another and remote staff can really bene-fit from this face-to-face interaction with their colleagues and managers.
Don’t lose the human touch
As well as the occasional face-to-face meeting, it’s a good idea to create opportunities for all staff to meet up. Remember, remote workers will spend the majority of their time using technology to communicate with their colleagues, but at the end of the day, they're still human. Invite them to work social events, training days and workshops to keep them involved. You could also organize meetings or away days at their location if this is possible (and they're not thousands of miles away). This gives them a chance to act as a brand ambassador for their location, making them feel like an integral part of the team.
Encourage co-working spaces
If you can afford it, you might choose to fund co-working spaces for your remote staff. You can then encourage your mobile workforce to come together at these co-working spaces, even if it’s just one day a week or perhaps even just once or twice a month. No matter how frequently (or in-frequently) they work form these spaces, this opportunity offers them a chance to get to know their colleagues better and work with each other in person, instead of conversing only through their key-board or over the phone.
Create a culture of collaboration
Nothing will kill productivity like feeling isolated or undervalued. Just because your workforce aren't always in the office (or potentially never in the office), this doesn't mean they should be seen or treated any differently from other employees. If you have both regular and remote staff, you need to create a culture where everyone is viewed equally and staff learn how to collaborate with one another, no matter their location.
Are you ready to boost productivity and connectivity amongst your remote workers?
It’s clear that strong communication is absolutely vital for keeping your mobile workforce connect-ed. But it’s also important that you don’t lose the human touch. Keep them productive and motivat-ed by helping them to feel like a valued member of the team, no matter their location. Using our advice above you can begin putting measures in place to support your entire workforce, but in par-ticular keep your remote workers happy and committed.