Remote employees can be a godsend to your office. They allow you to harness the perfect skill set regardless of where in the world they are and they can work long into the night if they’re in a different time zone. However, they’re not immune to the same trials and struggles that come with working in an office. Remote employees can also suffer from low morale and need attention from management. If you think your remote team is having a hard time, consider these four potential reasons and solutions.
They Miss the Human Interaction That Comes With Office Work
Working remotely can get lonely. In-house co-workers have the whole day together to share stories and tell jokes, while remote employees are often at home talking to their kids and pets. While many people prefer the environment of working at home, it’s nice to have interaction with one’s co-workers every once in a while.
Many companies work to create a “water cooler window” during their phone calls. This might be a 10-minute chat at the start of a weekly meeting to share stories from the weekend or “digital lunch socials” where employees call in during their lunch breaks to catch up and get to know each other. Employers must carve out these windows for remote employee interaction or those employees will continue to feel isolated.
Their Work Requires a Lot of Feedback and Changes
Everyone needs to accept constructive criticism in the workplace, especially if their work is project-based. However, you may find that your remote teams require more feedback and changes than in-house employees. In the world of digital communication, most instructions are sent via chat or email, and remote teams might not be able to ask follow-up questions or understand the scope of what is expected of them.
Before assigning a new project, set up a conference call to review what’s expected. Connecting through a full-featured smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S7 from T-Mobile can break down digital barriers and answer employees’ questions. If you are providing follow-up feedback, it helps to schedule phone calls or video chats so you can soften any criticism and also offer praise for their hard work.
They May Feel a Lack of Career Advancement Opportunities
Just because your employees are working from home or while traveling doesn’t mean they don’t have plans to grow their careers. It’s entirely possible that your employees are wondering if they’re making the best use of their time working for you or if they should look for another opportunity that offers more money and responsibility.
To solve this, managers should set up periodic face-to-face meetings with their employees to review their paths and let them talk about where they hope to go in the next few months. Address any concerns about advancing their careers and offer suggestions for doing so. This way they will know that you’re just as involved in their professional goals as you are with those of any in-house employee.
They May Be Having Personal Problems That You’re Unaware Of
If a member of your in-house team is having a problem — like pregnancy complications or a death in the family — then that person is likely to share it with you, at least in the process of asking for time off to take care of it. You might not know all of the details, but you will have a basic understanding that they’re having a hard time.
This isn’t always the case with your remote employees, who may not have the channel through which to share their personal problems. They might try to balance funeral arrangements between assignments and conference calls, so you never know that there’s something wrong.
If you notice a dramatic drop in morale or change in behavior, set up a call with that employee to talk about it. Keep the conversation open and let them share their thoughts and feelings without pushing, but try to identify the source of any problems.
All employees struggle to maintain high levels of morale at some point in their careers, and it’s the role of management to help find solutions. With remote employees, this might involve more phone calls, different projects, and even company socials, depending on the situation. In any case, communication is your best bet for learning about any problems in remote employees’ lives and helping to fix them.