Supporting Remote Workers

A survey conducted by Gallup finds that 43 percent of Americans work remotely, at least part time – and among those workers, 31 percent work remotely 80 to 100 percent of the time.

Clearly, the “workplace” has changed.
For the most part, the change has been positive, and workers and companies usually focus on the advantages of remote work – indeed, hiring companies often tout it as a perk.
Out of Sight
But there are also downsides. A new survey conducted by corporate training firm VitalSmarts finds that a majority of remote workers (52 percent) feels that their colleagues don’t treat them equally.
The survey, which asks about challenges like “Colleagues don’t fight for my priorities” and “Colleagues make changes to the project without warning me,” finds onsite employees also struggle with these issues. The difference is it’s more difficult for remote employees to address such matters.
Eighty-four percent of remote employees say that when encountering one of these issues the concern dragged on for a few days or longer.

Not Out of Mind

Management support can make a difference when it comes to resolving issues, greatly impact a remote worker’s outlook, and determine whether he or she feels like a valued member of the team.
With this in mind, VitalSmarts recommends that managers:

  • Check in with remote workers on a regular basis.
  • Respond quickly to pressing concerns.
  • Set clear expectations.
  • Communicate effectively, which includes employing good listening skills.

Getting Specific

While these and other tips the firm offers are good advice, attention to detail is likewise required. It’s worth remembering that little things sometimes have a big impact on a remote worker’s outlook.
Here are a few examples:

  • Let remote workers know when key employees are on vacation or otherwise unavailable.
  • Notify remote employees if the office plans to close early or extend a holiday weekend.
  • Introduce new employees to remote workers.
  • Let remote workers know about any management changes.
  • Advise remote workers of any policy and procedure changes.
  • Resolve technology issues pronto.

There are also personal matters, which speak to relationship building. For example, remember to wish your remote workers a happy holiday season.
If the office has a holiday party planned, you may want to invite your remote workers, even if they don’t live within commuting distance—but if you do, make it clear they are not obligated to attend. The message should be “we value you and want to include you.” In fact, this should always be the message.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.