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The Human Element of Remote Work: Fostering Connection and Collaboration

kokou adzo

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While it might be easy to assume that telecommuting makes people feel distant from one another, the opposite may be true in many cases. Companies that are good about promoting a culture of connection and participation could find that their staffers actually communicate even better when they’re working from a home office. Much of this has to do with the more casual environment provided by the friendly confines of home.

Some 70% of remote workers say that meetings are less stressful when they’re conducted online. Organizations that are capable of building strong team dynamics in spite of the distance that physically divides workers are going to be the most successful at leveraging this situation. Ensuring a good work-life balance is an excellent place to start.

Emphasizing Participation and Avoiding Burnout

Just like people who work in a physical environment, remote workers can end up feeling as though they’re being driven too hard, which can eventually lead to burnout if left unchecked. That’s why it’s important to develop a schedule that supports individuals. It’s easy to forget that remote workers are real human individuals, so managers need to ensure that they’re not overlooking this very important element. Give everyone a space to share their concerns and have a hand in the decision-making process.

Individuals who feel confident that they have at least some say in the assignment process tend to be more motivated. Organizations can use an online web forum or wiki service in order to provide a space for their staff to communicate openly and share ideas. Replacing a legacy human resources application with a more modern work time tracker can take much of the stress off of individual employees while letting them keep an eye on their own performance.

One of the biggest challenges associated with telecommuting comes in the form of questionable expectations. Creative professionals in particular may end up feeling severe stress levels if they don’t fully understand what’s expected of them. Online time tracking applications can fully spell out their deadlines, thus giving them ample time to account for every goal they need to accomplish. Providing them with an ample amount of freedom to tackle these chores can lead to greater levels of satisfaction.

Creating a Free Environment

Collaborative communication tools are important, and it’s best if everyone feels as though they have a chance to share ideas. Giving workers plenty of chances to ask for help is just as important. That being said, it’s also a good idea to give them space. People who elect to work remotely often want to have at least some leeway when it comes to getting their job done.

Business owners who aren’t used to the idea of telecommuting will often insist that their staffers stay logged into a video chat app all the time. This quickly becomes stifling and may even make some workers feel like they’re not trusted. It’s better to use a time tracking sheet that lists everyone’s expected duties and how long they have to complete them.

Even sending out too many text messages or emails can be a bit of a distraction. The average inbox now has 33 unread email messages sitting in it, and this number is likely to keep growing as more people transition to a remote workplace. Staffers may be more likely to open up messages if they’re sure they’re getting something truly important.

Once the whole team gets into a rhythm of receiving and returning assignments, they may end up motivating themselves. That gives everyone the freedom to work at their own pace without missing any major milestones. Growing technology and service companies are quickly adopting this model, but there’s no reason that it couldn’t work in nearly any industry.

Finding a Model that Fits

Different kinds of companies will naturally gravitate toward various types of models that work in their specific industry space. The newest startup companies are in a rather advantageous position, since they’re not already set in any established paradigms. Managers at these firms often have full discretionary power to create whatever kind of workflows seem best for them.

Granting a high degree of employee independence may be more difficult for established firms, but it’s still possible for those who elect to work with a modern online dashboard system. Message boards might seem a bit chaotic at first, but they can be a great place for people from different divisions to come and share ideas.

Pay-rolling and other scheduling-related issues can all be handled by a dedicated time tracking program, thus making it possible for fast-growing companies to adapt to telecommuting. Regardless of what solutions get deployed, the most important thing is to always make sure to listen to employee feedback. Staff members always have an eyewitness look at what’s going on, so there’s a good chance that they’ll come up with some of the best ideas.

Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of Startup.info. He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at Startup.info.

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