Americans are increasingly coming home to work, according to 2017 data from Gallup. The research firm found the number of full-time remote workers grew by 10 percent while the number spending 80 percent or more of their time working remotely increased by more than 30 percent from 2012 to 2016. Remote work programs continue to trend upward for two reasons:
1. They offer employers several benefits, including a larger pool of employee candidates, improved employee retention and better ROI.
2. Employees – particularly millennials – increasingly are demanding remote work arrangements.
The trend is unlikely to wane – once employees go remote, they rarely go back – at least not willingly. Some 90 percent of remote workers plan on working remotely for the rest of their careers, according to Buffer’s 2018 State of Remote Work report.
Despite its many advantages, a remote work program can present challenges for your managers and employees.
In 2012, Gallup data showed that 39% of employees worked remotely in some capacity, meaning they spent at least some of their time working in a location different from that of their coworkers. In 2016, that number grew by four percentage points to 43%.
You may struggle with supervising your remote employees effectively when they seldom have face-to-face interactions. You may find it hard to keep them engaged and not feeling left out. This is especially true with your fully remote workers. Unlike employees who balance time in and out of the office, your fully remote workers don’t have natural ways to interact with their coworkers at the proverbial watercooler.
This can lead them to have lower engagement, loneliness and motivation issues. In fact, Buffer’s recent report found that remote workers struggle with loneliness and collaborating and/or communicating more than any other challenges while working from home.
You also may be challenged by getting to know your remote employees and become frustrated by the lack of insight into their day-to-day activities. Fortunately, Gallup says common issues with managing remote workers can be alleviated if you employ a few key tactics:
- Be intentional – Be deliberate about when and how you communicate with your remote employees. You don’t need to have daily 30-minute “check-in” conversations, but you should make an effort to connect with them consistently – whether through phone calls, email, IM, text messaging or videoconferencing.
- Know their needs – In addition to frequent, ongoing discussions about your remote employees’ career goals, get to know them as people and care for them as individuals. Personalization and attention to detail will help to build a foundation of trust and accountability.
- Create a virtual community – Cultivate a social environment and recreate the office culture through effective use of technology to give remote employees the feeling of being part of a larger team.
You can implement any number of complex collaboration tools to achieve these goals, but sometimes the best answer for keeping remote teams engaged is the simplest.
Working from home with b-hive
Broadvoice b-hive Communicator allows your employees – in the office and remote — to communicate one-on-one and with their teams using instant messaging (IM), short message service (SMS) and phone calls from anywhere they have access to the Internet and a browser.
By simply logging into Broadvoice’s web-based client on a PC or MAC, your employees can initiate a call, text or SMS, answer, screen and transfer calls, and get notifications of voice and chat activities.
The IM feature is particularly useful because it fits seamlessly into the flow of work, with co-workers able to chat back and forth about joint projects. It also gives your remote workers the opportunity to make small talk and participate in team building as they would if they were in the office.
According to a May 2017 survey from ReportLinker, the use of private and group IM is on the rise because it enhances efficiency and team collaboration while reducing the volume of emails.
Using Broadvoice b-hive Communicator offers many benefits to your virtual organization, including:
- One desktop app for calls, text, group text and SMS
- Access to call management features such as mute, hold and call transfer
- Click to call or click to chat from the company directory
- SMS messaging to any number or contact
- Texting directly from your business phone number to maintain corporate branding
- Presence indication so teammates know whether colleagues are available or on a call
- Caller ID for call screening
- Access to recent and archived communications history
- Push notifications so users are alerted to new texts and calls when the app is running in the background
Broadvoice b-hive Communicator is just one component of the Broadvoice b-hive platform, an award-winning cloud PBX, UC, collaboration and virtual call center solution that delivers a range of communications capabilities rarely found together in enterprise cloud solutions, let alone one designed for small and medium businesses (SMBs) with as few as 10 employees.
Broadvoice B-hive Communicator alone gives businesses with remote workers the tools to enhance team productivity, extend that productivity externally to people across a supply chain and customer base, respond to needs in real time and get work done.
Just as importantly, it gives supervisors the ability to motivate and manage the performance of employees whom they rarely see in person, and remote workers a sense of inclusion that pays off in engagement and productivity.
If you employ remote workers today or plan to in the future, we’d be happy to send you more information about Broadvoice b-hive Communicator. Reach out to your Broadvoice representative or call us at 1-866-707-3902.