With advances in technology, it’s easier than ever for people to work remotely, often from different parts of the world. But while this enhanced flexibility can bring advantages such as lower overheads, a wider talent pool and happier employees who can spend more time with their families, it also brings with it new challenges.

If your business has employees working remotely, then incentivising them effectively can be an issue. It’s not difficult to see the problem – your employee may be sat at home alone all day, potentially with distractions all around if there is no designated work space available. With no manager around ensuring that work is being done or colleagues to collaborate with, motivation can easily be sapped away fast leading to burn-out, and loss of productivity and efficiency.

Here’s a few ways you can incentivise your remote workers to keep them happy and productive.

Regular Communication

Isolation is a real issue if you work alone. If you don’t hear regularly from the company, either by phone, video call or email, then you can feel forgotten about or sidelined. You might feel unwilling to ask questions, or for support. Contact your remote workers regularly, aiming for once a day, to ensure their needs are being met and that all necessary information is getting across. Personal contact may seem like a small thing but in fact it’s one of the greatest ways to improve employee satisfaction. Check these top 7 tools to fuel communications with your remote team.

Gifts

Giving remote workers gifts lets them know that their work is valued. It’s a good way to reward success and loyalty, or simply to let them know that they’re still considered to be a part of the team even if they don’t have a desk in head office. Finding top gifts for remote workers can be a minefield though, particularly if they work in a different culture to your own, or you don’t know their interests. You don’t want to send someone a case of wine in case they’re teetotal, for example. Experience vouchers such as those from Tinggly are a good option in this instance – they let the recipient choose what they want to do according to their own interests, in countries all over the world. These can be good for birthdays, milestones, or Christmas gift ideas for your remote team as much as rewards.

Teamwork

It can be a massive boost to a remote worker’s confidence and morale to feel as though they’re part of a team, all working towards the same goal. Regular conference calls with colleagues, software that enables or improves collaboration on projects, and team events on the occasions when everyone is in the same place at the same time, can all foster a valuable feeling of camaraderie.

Quality Monitoring Software

This is a thorny subject and one that needs care if your company plans to introduce it. Essentially you’re using software that tracks how long a remote worker spends on a task, but it can easily be seen as a form of surveillance and if not properly explained it can lead to serious resentment. Quality monitoring software should be seen as an aid to productivity and to ensure that employees are being paid a fair wage for their work, rather than surreptitiously keeping an eye on what they’re doing.

Feedback

Even if you communicate often with your remote workers, help them feel like part of a team, and ensure they are rewarded for their efforts, there can still be issues which might not exist if they were office-based. For this reason it makes sense to ask them for their feedback on how different aspects of the job are going, perhaps in a half-yearly questionnaire that allows them to provide qualitative as well as quantitative answers. If you have large numbers of remote workers then you can even make this an anonymous process to encourage greater honesty. Any suggestions or concerns received from your remote workers in this way must be acknowledged at the very least. If you’re unable to resolve them, so be it, but the employee must know that what they’ve said has registered.

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