We have all heard the adage “out of sight, out of mind,” and are familiar with its connotations. As Telecommuting slowly but surely permeates the workforce and increase flexibility in businesses of all shapes and sizes it can be easy to not pay this new remote workforce the proper attention. Consistent communication and collaboration are integral to ensuring telecommuters feel part of the company culture.
A recent article from Entrepreneur illustrates some simple ways to maintain a healthy and collaborative relationship with one’s remote workforce.
A good place to start is scheduled times to communicate. This can be done by leveraging conference call services and having a Web conference to maintain a connection. This is a great step toward open lines of collaboration and communication.
Another suggestion is to send a remote worker an e-card. Whether we like to admit it or not, a personalized email from management is a nice “warm fuzzy.” It can contain work material, but there is nothing wrong with including a funny message or video.
Just because someone is not in the office does not mean they are not part of the team. I good way to drive this point home is by nominating telecommuters for awards. Awards should be given based on merit, but it is easy to heavily over-represent those in the office simply because they are seen more frequently. By nominating remote workers at an even ratio, whether they win the award or not it is still an affirmation of the worker’s value.
I would say the most common means of communication in the office is via email. Many of us see hundreds of emails daily, and it’s easy to bang out a few quick emails. But management must bear in mind that because the telecommuter is not in the office, management’s emails many times serve as the primary connection to “the office.” Not only does management have to be thorough with instruction but also make sure to offer positive feedback when warranted and strive to keep everybody on the same page.
Technology is our friend; it affords opportunity today that was not possible just a few short years ago. The adoption of telecommuting is a testament to the productivity and efficiency that conference call services provide. Innovations like Web conferencing create a cohesive unit out of a disparate group of workers, so remember that just because someone doesn’t work from the office every day does not mean they don’t exist—they are just out of sight.
Edited by Alisen Downey