In today’s hyper-connected world, employees don’t have to be in the office to be productive. Many companies have identified remote working as a viable option to hire the best staff. Tech companies, always ahead of the game, have been doing this for years. In fact, 36% of developers work remotely at least a few days each month, while 9% do so full time, according to Stack Overflow’s Developer Ecosystem Report.
However, one of the first concerns businesses express around remote workers is: are they working? The issue of trust is one of the most vital aspects of a company’s remote working programme. Similarly, it’s crucial for remote workers to feel like valuable additions to a company’s team; in fact, 62% of employees are worried that they aren’t perceived as hard-working when they are not physically in the office.
To establish trust with employees there are three areas that businesses need to focus on: communication, outcome-based goals and the right tools.
1. Communicate regularly
Just because your developer works in another location doesn’t mean that you never speak with them. When you do communicate, make sure you do so in a way that makes them feel at ease. Hold a daily online meeting to have a quick-fire 10-minute conversation at the start of each day, to ensure that everyone in the team is synchronized and, with video conferencing, they see each other and feel connected.
Furthermore, small rewards can go a long way regarding keeping employees motivated and showing them that you take a genuine interest in their wellbeing. Employees are five times more likely to stay in a company if their managers consistently acknowledge them for doing good work. Also, 70% of employees say that motivation and morale would improve ‘massively’ if managers said ‘thank you’ more.
A way to show appreciation can be in the form of a gift and note, for instance. For a coffee drinker, a manager can send a developer a good brand of coffee with a note saying ‘thank you for the extra hours that you’ve put in to complete the project last week.’
2. Set personal outcome-based goals
It is often easier to measure remote workers than workers in the office. The reason for this is that remote working is mainly focused on outcomes and not necessarily the hours spent on a project.
People generally work better when they know what they’re supposed to be doing. Clearly define the responsibilities and goals of everyone in the team.
Ensure that the expectations are consistent and understood by both parties, and put it in writing. These goals should be personalized, playing-up to each’s strengths to ensure not only the best possible outcomes but also a boost in morale as employees would feel gratified by fully utilizing their skill set.
3. Provide the right tools to do the job
A painter can have the best studio, brushes, paint, and inspiration, but unless they have something to paint on, like a canvas, they can’t create. Make sure this doesn’t happen to your developers. Companies can show their support and trust in their employees by providing them with the necessary tools to do the job to the highest possible standard. Look at their workspace requirements. Do they have decent chairs and are their keyboards and screens up to scratch?
Also, what type of communication tools do you have in place? A good video conferencing tool can make daily meetings mentioned earlier happen easier. Messaging services like Skype or Slack are great for staying in touch throughout the day and answering quick questions. Lastly, create a list of tools that may be useful and share it with your team. These can include time tracking, virtual assistants, teambuilding, group chats or mind mapping tools.
In a nutshell, any company must be able to trust its employees, whether they are working remotely or on-site. Remote working, in particular, is a trend not likely to go away soon, with businesses expecting 38% of their full-time staff to be working remotely in the next decade. It is a prerequisite for a new generation of employees, and it’s a compelling offering that can help attract the best talent. Direct benefits can include increased productivity and morale, higher employee retention, and lower operational costs, among others. The time is ripe to shape your company’s remote working policy today and start building on a culture of trust.
About the author: Sean Bave is the Vice President and General Manager at Stack Overflow Talent, discusses how communication, outcome-based goals and the right tools can increase trust.