The world of business is increasingly embracing remote work and the many benefits it brings to companies and workers. Advancing technology and networking capabilities have helped remote work advance both in popularity and possibility over the past few years.
43% of Americans spent part of their working week working remotely in 2017 and 35% of America’s workers were employed as freelancers in 2016. This is a figure that is only expected to grow over the coming years. With an employee performance management system, it’s easy to keep track of and include your remote workforce.
The benefits of freelance and remote work include added flexibility for workers, increased attractiveness of employers to prospective hires (especially millennials), and increased workforce diversity and productivity. Below are five ways to help you keep remote and freelance workers engaged, inspired and effective when they are not in the office.
Trust is the basis of success for most relationships, regardless of whether they take place inside or outside the office. Freelancers should have entrepreneurial minds that fit with the company’s culture and expectations should be clearly defined from the outset.
Leaders should set an example of openness and transparency by sharing mistakes along with successes. When people see that they are safe to confess poor decisions, ask for help, or identify issues without fear of punishment or losing a contract, they are more likely to share. Through their vulnerability, issues and problems can be resolved quickly before they cause damage to the business.
Just because your staff is remote doesn’t mean trust isn’t essential. In your virtual correspondence and communications, you can build a relationship and provide feedback that shows the same level of trust to them as for your in-office team.
The ability to work from anywhere is becoming the new norm, but it is also a privilege. Maintaining the freedom to work remotely as a freelancer needs to come with the responsibility of being accountable to the rest of the team as well as the company’s mission.
Along with clear expectations for performance, managers should encourage remote and freelancing workers to discuss their goals with the team. Sharing achievements should give the entire team further impetus to work harder and achieve more.
Use Your Human Touch
Interacting with remote and freelance workers can become an automatic, de-humanized experience if care isn’t taken to inject a little personality and a ‘human touch.’ Building emotional capital with remote workers doesn’t have to be difficult. Work can be fun as well as stressful; interactions over email, a project management system, or messenger service should reflect that.
Allow people to see the real you behind the digital interactions. Try dropping the stilted professional speak and begin creating genuine relationships that will build engagement and motivation.
Stay Aware of Pertinent Questions
Remote work has many benefits. For example, it gives freelancers the space needed to do their best, cut down on stress, and negate the need for a long, pointless commute. However, it can also leave people feeling alone.
Regular communication via FaceTime, email, or project management software allows managers to check-in on remote workers to see how they are progressing. It also gives them the opportunity to realign out of office workers with organizational goals if necessary.
Questions about the project and overall work satisfaction should be included in these interactions. Staying in touch provides remote and freelance workers with the opportunity to suggest new technology, systems, or ways of working that help them stay organized and productive while also keeping them in touch with the wider organization.
Freelancing and remote working require discipline, motivation, self-reflection, and organization; strategic advice from others who’ve done it before also helps. While the freedom to work on multiple tasks is a mainstay of remote and freelance work, becoming distracted and switching context can add an unintended break to the day that ends up causing a lack of focus.
Teams should share advice and systems to support better self-management and maintain accountability. When teams share their ways of working and give advice to each other on how to be more productive throughout the day, their support enhances team cohesion and accountability for each team member.
Giving workers the flexibility to work where, how, and when they like can increase productivity for a business. Following the above steps will help team members remain inspired and effective workers.
By Rae Steinbach, Professional Freelance Editor
Image Credit: centro güel (CC Licence)