For part two in our series on how to get the most out of a virtual team, we’re getting some great information From Carlos Castelán, Managing Director of The Navio Group in Minneapolis, a business management consulting firm that advises companies how to improve workplace issues such as remote workers, productivity, company culture, employee communications, engagement, hiring, retainment, and the overall employee experience.
The key benefits of hiring remote workers is two-fold
First, you are offering employees a more flexible work/life balance, which is highly attractive to a vast majority of the workforce, particularly working moms. With a tight job market and low unemployment, remote work is increasingly important to workers and on the rise. For parents, work from home is the ideal solution. It provides the work/life balance so many covet. And it eliminates many of the reasons why so many either quit or move to companies that offer more flexibility
The other big plus: employing the best possible employee regardless of where they live.
Before technology created remote work, companies had to hire people who lived close to the office. Hiring employees was location-based.
Now, technology platforms, such as Catalant and Upwork are revolutionizing this concept by providing companies access to highly skilled talent pools all over the world. These platforms allow companies to leverage technology to quickly find great employees for a project or role and onboard them quickly, which is an added benefit given how long a potential search, and subsequent onboarding can take. Technology platforms allow companies to re-think talent and how they go-to-market to find the best candidates for a project or assignment.
There are some negatives, however
The negative to remote workers: The feeling of loneliness and isolation is common with remote workers who work from home. They don’t have the interaction with colleagues and management that they would experience if they were in a traditional office.
Poor communication from leadership is a key factor in remote worker loneliness, isolation, stress and burnout. It impacts employee engagement and causes remote workers to feel isolated by making team members feel removed from decisions and devoid of any sense of ownership. In many ways, poor communication – or a lack of communication – signals to someone that they’re not valued enough to be included. Poor communication can lead to role ambiguity as well as heightened stress or anxiety because of a lack of feedback which ultimately leads to, stress, burnout, talent drain or other symptoms of low employee engagement.
Also, one of the hardest parts of staying motivated as a remote worker is fully grasping how your contributions fit into the overall picture and mission. By managers setting up daily check-ins among a team, sharing wins, encouraging one-on-one communications, you can help your remote maintain their sense of purpose in the mission. And you help remove the feeling of isolation.
To promote this type of comradery, it helps to have a day to day framework which the team follows. While making allowances for time zones, a team should have buckets of time dedicated to team projects, such as brainstorms or whiteboarding sessions as well as time devoted for individual contributions. This allows for flexibility during personal time, but also obliging team members to show up at certain times.
The more communication between the office and the remote worker helps alleviate the feeling of isolation many workers experience.