In the recent Gallup State of the American Workplace Report it found that from 2012 to 2016, the number of employed Americans working remotely –at least some of the time- grew from 39% to 43%. This number is set to continue to rise, and employees already working remotely will spend more time doing so.
The appeal of flexible work is fairly obvious, particularly for those battling long commutes, raising a family, or managing a chronic illness. Your team might work on the ground or be travelling regularly. Heck, maybe you just feel that you could produce a higher standard of work today while you wear your pyjamas on the couch. The reasons for seeking remote work are varied, and research supports that the outcomes can be positive for both employees and employers. In fact, Boston College research reports that 64% of employees would choose a lower paying job if they could work away from the office just one day a week.
So, not only could offering remote work options increase the productivity and performance of your team, but it could help attract exceptional talent to come and work for you in the first place. Sounds like something worth considering, right?
Before you go ahead and cancel the lease on your office building, you’re obviously going to need the right digital tools in place to support your remote team. One of the most critical will be your company intranet, not only in its functionality but how you leverage it to engage employees. For all of remote working’s benefits, keeping staff engaged, connected and collaborative is difficult without physical interaction. Fortunately, your intranet is where you can bridge the gap.
1) Detailed, meaningful User Profiles
User Profiles can do so much more than placing a face to a name. Staff need not share their life stories, but think about the important stuff- areas of expertise, qualifications, strengths and the like. Without meeting, a remote worker should be able to view a User Profile and understand what that person does, and what they could bring to a project.
2) A Staff Directory that encourages connections
Now that your User Profiles actually mean something, you’ll need a killer staff directory to make them findable. With GreenOrbit, by applying metadata to your profile, this information then becomes searchable across the intranet. For example, you could simply search the word ‘French’ to find a French speaker to interpret something for you. This makes it easy for remote workers to find topic experts and initiate collaboration, no matter where they might be located.
The mobile team at RSPCA do a fantastic job at this; regularly posting articles to their intranet sharing stories and photos of their animal rescues. In turn, they are keeping remote staff in the loop, while reinforcing and celebrating their team culture. Great job guys!
4) Digital collaboration
Distance shouldn’t hinder employee collaboration. Iwan Westfa, IT Manager at global consulting firm Ecorys, sums up the benefits (and ease) of collaborating via the intranet perfectly:
“Someone in the UK posted to a #Channel that their client needed to conduct an interview with a particular type of expert. Up until then, they could not find anyone and the project was in jeopardy. Once it was posted to #Channels, an expert in the Netherlands popped up by commenting on the post. So the reporters came to the Netherlands to carry out the interview. Normally we would have just lost the opportunity, but we made a profit.”
5) Private Groups
Business-wide collaboration is great, but remote workers also need to collaborate within their team. Functionality such as Private Groups provides a place for teams to communicate, file-share and come together- even when they’re apart.
6) Digitize your forms
If your forms and processes are paper-based, remote workers are going to have a rough time completing them. They’ll either have to navigate a scanner or send it to you in the post, both of which are slow and completely infuriating. Instead, comprehensive online forms will allow them to submit forms quickly, easily and accurately.
7) Recognising good work
You might be unable to give your remote co-workers a physical high-five, but social intranet tools can provide the digital equivalent. Using a tool such as GreenOrbit #Channels, you can acknowledge the contributions of remote workers for your entire organization to see. At GreenOrbit, we share #StaffShoutouts internally to celebrate exceptional work. Through likes and comments, the ‘applause’ can be heard wherever we are.
8) Comprehensive online learning
A remote or mobile worker should experience the same training and education as their office-based colleagues. Providing comprehensive training modules with workflow through your intranet means staff can become experts in a new program, sales strategy, or safety process wherever they may be located.
Video conferencing is as close as dispersed teams can get to chatting face-to-face. When conferencing isn’t possible, record important presentations or events and store them on your intranet to allow remote employees to be a fly-on-the-wall.
10) Find opportunities
Within our own team at GreenOrbit, we have a number of remote workers whose lifeline is the intranet. Essentially, it’s where they ‘go to work’ and can interact with colleagues on a professional and personal level.
One of our remote employees is a regular contributor to our #Photography channel, sharing his work as a moonlight events photographer. From this, we instantly knew he would be the perfect person to work with our marketing team and photograph the SuperFoiler Grand Prix. He had the opportunity to travel around the country pursuing his passion, while the marketing team had access to exceptional event photos - a fantastic outcome for both parties.
As the number of remote workers grows, so too do the expectations of the remote work experience. By implementing these tips and leveraging your intranet as a digital workplace, you’ll be able to attract and retain the best remote employees for your business.