The number of remote workers has increased by 115% compared to a year ago, as cited by a new study by Virgin Pulse. In fact, a third of employees globally now work remotely “always” or “very often”. The study also discovered that two-thirds of remote workers aren’t engaged and over a third never get any face-time with their team—despite the fact that over 40% said it would help build deeper relationships. Furthermore, it showed that remote workers are much less likely to stay at their company long-term. Only 5% “always” or “very often” see themselves working at their company for their entire career, compared to almost a third that never work remotely.
Not surprisingly, some companies have decided to cut back their remote work programs and require their employees to be at the office every day. Yahoo!, Best Buy, HP, Reddit, IBM, and Honeywell are amongst some of the well-known organisations to take this approach. They believe that in-person collaboration fosters teamwork, idea-sharing and quicker decision making. Moreover, they think it is the best way to build a strong culture, increase engagement, and fuel work relationships.
But given the scarcity of skilled technology professionals, sometimes it simply isn’t possible to have the entire team work in the office together, particularly when it comes to developers and experienced programme architects. Hiring the best person for the job takes precedence over hiring someone local that can come to the office everyday. So what can organisations do to help remote individuals feel more connected to their office-based teammates?
1. Use technology to help remote workers feel connected, and work with colleagues in real-time. Video conferencing and instant chat are two affordable technologies that will go a long way in replacing the ‘face-to-face’ meetings and back-and-forth colleagues often have that sit near each other. Most companies already have unified communications systems with these two technologies in place. Cloud-based team-messaging services such as Slack, can also be used to aid team communication no matter where members are based, and provide a sense of belonging by setting up different groups.
2. Satellite offices. If you have two or three home-based workers that live close to each other, it may be worth considering opening a satellite office, or organising co-working space for them. Working side-by-side even one other colleague will help provide a sense of belonging.
3. Monthly visits by remote workers. If your company can afford it, require the remote workers come to the main office once a month for a few days. Important meetings can be held face-to-face and after-work socialising can occur that simply isn’t possible with even the best technology.
Although research shows that remote workers are more productive, we know now that this benefit may be countered by how isolated they feel, and the effect that has on their long-term loyalty to the company. Like most things however, a middle ground is probably best. Remote working can be a very positive thing if managed carefully—and companies can get the best of both worlds, with top talent and happy, collaborative teams.
About Oliver Parks
Oliver Parks Consulting offers search-based recruitment solutions to the technology sector, specialising in the ERP, CRM, CMS, ECM, BI and Open Source Technology spaces. The firm’s multilingual consultants operate in narrowly-defined niche market segments, enabling them to gain extensive knowledge of the people and companies operating in each technology. Oliver Parks has a proven track-record with more than 100,000 candidates worldwide and more than 300 clients globally.