The benefits of allowing staff to work from home are well-known; it helps them achieve a better work/life balance, it can help boost productivity and even save businesses money in the long run.
However, having your workforce scattered across the country and rarely seeing them face-to-face also brings a number of challenges which businesses need to carefully manage if they are to reap the rewards of having a flexible working policy.
One of the key challenges is keeping staff motivated and engaged outside of the traditional office environment where there is no one to bounce ideas off or discuss issues with, but there are a whole host of tempting distractions.
We take a look at a few of the ways you can help keep your homeworkers motivated.
Keep in touch
It’s easy for homeworkers to feel disconnected from the office and become disengaged, so it’s important to keep in regular contact with them. Get into the habit of sending a morning email to say hello and another when you leave at the end of the day, after all, it’s unlikely you’d walk past your colleagues in the office without greeting them. You can also make the best use of technology and organise weekly or monthly video conferences where you can chat, while instant messaging tools such as Skype are free to use and encourage more informal communication, making homeworkers feel like part of the team.
Keep them informed
Not knowing what is going on within the company they work for is sure to make workers feel less motivated. Make sure you contact any homeworkers to fill them in announcements, however small. If you have a large body of homeworkers why not send out a weekly newsletter, updating them on all the company business which other staff members may have heard about around the water cooler?
Give them the right kit
There’s nothing more frustrating than a job taking twice as long to complete at home because you simply don’t have the tools you need. Before staff start working from home sit down with them and assess what equipment they’ll need and what programs and systems they’ll need to use regularly. You should also liaise with your IT department about any extra requirements, for example their home broadband may need to be a certain speed to handle internal systems. It’s a good idea to embrace the cloud, and make sure that any documents which need updating on a regular basis are stored somewhere where they can be accessed and edited from any location.
Give regular feedback
Giving regular feedback is a way of letting your employees know how valued they are as well as helping them get better at their job, however, it can be easy to get out of the habit if you don’t see workers everyday; giving workers a virtual pat on the back is harder to remember than mentioning one of their achievements in passing. However, picking up the phone, or sending out a ‘well done’ email can reap rewards in terms of how much it motivates your homeworkers.