The Internet has undoubtedly been one of the major influences in all fields of society since its introduction and the following boom in the nineties. Thanks to this technology, almost all human activities have a correspondence in the digital world; and, if not, there’s enough information online about each one of them.
Work, one of the most basic human activities, is no exception. The labor sector has also experienced big changes in the way of doing things thanks to the Internet. Telework (or “Telecommuting”) is one of those new phenomena that were possible because of the existence of computers, servers, undersea cables, satellites, and large computer networks.
The term “Telework” first appeared in 1973 thanks to Jack Nilles, a physicist and engineer who was looking for a method to revolutionize the way people worked during the oil crisis that hit the world back in those days. That new model offered more economic and friendly advantages (environmentally and socially speaking.) However, the real boom in this type of work took place in the late nineties and almost two decades later, it’s a global trend.
This post talks about four human resources tips for companies operating under this system. The purpose of writing an article like this is related to the certainty that, although no model is exempt from conflicts, there are always useful solutions to solve them.
Keep warm personal relations
One of the great problems involved in telecommuting is the lack of interaction between the members of the team. If we analyze the history of labor, we can see that telework change the basic rules of the game. In a physical working environment, interpersonal relationships are produced automatically, and, therefore, the solidarity links among team members.
A risk to be avoided is that the distance and lack of interaction drag your workers to individualism instead of group-consciousness. Do you already know your team personally? Do you know their lives, their problems, their daily lives? No? Well, it’s time to start doing it. If you are a leader, you must stop being that one who scolds them every time they do something wrong, and you should start to participate more actively in the work of the team.
If each worker does not care much about what happens to others, the team will not work as one body. Promote interactive group activities (in person or online.) Let them joke, let them talk about their lives, write inspiring texts. Improvise. Help them to remain human; don’t let them become a group of isolated selfish hermits.
Help them to become better workers
What do you do for your employees, besides paying them for what they do for you? Think about it. If you don’t invest in your team (in money, in time, in energy), if you don’t do anything constructive for your people, if they leave your company the same as they started… then something is wrong with your company.
Train them, help them to find new tools to be better. Identify problems that a telecommuting worker may have in his daily routine: procrastination, anxiety, stress, poor time management, etc. Find useful conferences, courses, useful techniques for improving their work and lives. There are thousands of free resources online, but you also can hire a specialist to teach them how to work better. It is really an excellent long-term investment.
Related article: Human Resources: the main asset within the organization, by Jason Hanold
Incentives and motivation
Put yourself in the shoes of those who work for you. What kind of motivations have they every morning after starting their computers? Money is not the best answer for this question. Your team must believe in what your company does, and that is possible through the proper motivation. You must give them confidence as a team. Make them feel recognized when they do something good, reward them when they work in the way you want them to. If your company is going through a bad time, explain them the situation, include them in how to solve the problem.
Living far away and working from home is not an obstacle for achieving the right motivation, the inspiration for working in a team and as a team. Use your creativity as a leader. Remember that a positive mood begins with you, boss.
Improve the group and individual communication
If you understand that society (and any sector of it) is built on communication, through communications and to subsequently communicate, you will know that most of the problems of your company (if not all) are mere communication problems.
Communication is much more than sending and receiving messages about what you want your workers to do for you. If you need to give them important instructions, don’t just write them a long text about what they have to do and how (no matter how practical and clear it sounds.) Arrange a teleconference, instead: Talk to them in your simple words. If it is difficult for everyone to be “present” (because they live in different parts of the world, or for any other reason), record a video of the conference and allow those who could not attend to be aware of what was discussed.
Contact each worker permanently: How is your agenda this week? What are your goals? How do you feel?
Helping humans to remain humans is the basic key here. Don’t forget it.