The employer’s solution kit for remote-worker challenges Part 3: Practical ways of involving and supporting employees who work off-site

Employees who take ownership of their work not only derive more job satisfaction – they also deliver better quality outputs. There are various ways to adjust operational systems to encourage such ownership.

Employee and company feedback

It’s hard enough at times to air one’s needs and viewpoints at the office. The more so when working from a distance! There is a real danger that employees may begin to feel neglected and irrelevant. This is especially true if the only feedback they get is negative rather than positive and reinforcing.

A perception of being neglected and, accordingly, not being regarded as important to company operations will have a self-fulfilling effect: a retreat from proactive participation and productive engagement.

Counter a lack of belief by employees in their own importance by conducting regular anonymous employee satisfaction or pulse surveys, and make sure the results are published in newsletters or communicated back to employees.

Furthermore, support surveys with personal chats to get additional information and gauge how employees really feel and where there may be room for improvement. Do they feel they own their desk? Are they confident of their own roles and contributions? If not, what can be done to improve this?

Even small to medium-sized companies will benefit from open communication lines.

Employee contributions

Make sure employees know and buy into their own roles. How do their everyday functions take the company forward? In what way does the company rely on their contributions, and how does each employee’s contributions mesh with the rest? In particular, when there has been an achievement of some sort, how did the various role players make that happen?

Regular company-wide updates of successes in a newsletter or bulletin that praise and acknowledge individuals and teams can be a great morale booster. Staff members may also be encouraged by sending them small gifts or a certificate of appreciation for bigger achievements.

Clear communication

Communicating from a distance holds its own challenges. Add to that a diversity of mother tongues and cultures, and there’s a good chance of misunderstandings occurring.

One way of improving the clarity of company communications is to adopt a plain language policy. Make sure everyone is trained in how to simplify their language and that the message to communicate in plain language is continually reinforced.

Crisis management

Give employees a firm plan of action for times when a crisis arises and quick decisions have to be made. Without them being able to walk to someone’s door for help, they should be able to act promptly and decisively within previously set parameters. This gives both the employee and the company peace of mind about those inevitable ‘Oh no!’ happenings …

Flexible working hours

This may sound counter-intuitive. Don’t employees already have more flexibility working offsite?

Fact is, though, that an additional step that ups responsibility for their own work time means increased accountability for every hour that they are paid to work. A formal system that caters for flexible working hours can also be managed better, in that it can cater for requirements such as the required administrative system to keep a record of hours worked, and the need to have someone available at all times.

Takeaway

Ownership of one’s own work benefits not only the employee but also the company. The better equipped the employee is to own their own desk, the smoother operations will run and the higher employee morale will be.

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