Advents in technology have transformed the modern day workforce. Millions of Americans telecommute to work. They are able to do so with tools like conference call services and Web conferencing which remove the hurdle of location for productivity. While technology allows for a maintained level of communication and collaboration it can be very easy for a remote worker to feel, well, remote and distant.
A recent report from interact reveals some intriguing trends. It discovered that nearly 70 percent of Americans that work remotely feel that management must improve communication and keep them integrated. To compound that, over 60 percent of telecommuters in America feel those in the office are far more involved. And the cherry on top, well that comes from the 50 percent of American employees that report feeling disconnected when working remotely.
“Unhappy employees who are disconnected from their managers and the company cannot take ownership of the mission, goals, or big picture, which is the minimum requirement for the kind of engagement that impacts a company’s bottom line,” explains Lou Solomon, Interact’s CEO and founder.
Now that’s out there, how can this disconcerting discovery be addressed? Fear not, I have a few suggestions that just might do the trick.
Management, I’m talking to you, sometimes you have to make the extra effort for the sake of the team. What do I mean by this? Hit the road from time to time. Although Web conferencing allows for communication, it is not always the same as a face-to-face sit down. Solomon stresses this point; it is a means to creating a culture of communication.
Another way remote workers can be more integrated is by created smaller teams to work on projects. This will build trust and a connection amongst the team. Solomon notes, “What virtual workers often lack is the satisfaction of what it means to be a part of a trusting team of people connected by purpose.”
Finally, email cannot be the only means of communication. I would go as far to say that email shouldn’t be the primary means of communication. It is not difficult to pick up the phone, and a conference call provides the platform for two-way communication. “People are wasting hours managing email that does nothing to build connections, much less trust,” says Solomon. “Consider ‘No Email Fridays’ and ‘No Email Weekends’ for virtual teams.”
With the freedom technology allows, it is easy to forget that we are all human beings. If we lose the ability to build trusting and valuable relationships through hard work and collaboration we lose much of who we are as people. Be mindful of your team, stay in contact but don’t babysit and most importantly communicate clearly and concisely, and in the end a team of happy workers are a team of productive workers.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi