The practice of working remotely is on the rise. An increasing number of companies and employees are uncovering the value it can provide, specifically when it comes to hiring workers with a physical disability. The American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau shows regular work at home has increased by 140% since 2005. Options to work remotely offer flexibility and freedom, especially to those with disabilities. Remote work arrangements decrease the need to commute, as well as the time and potential inconveniences that can come with commuting. As this working arrangement becomes more common, firms will continue to maximize the productivity and inclusion it enables. Here are four ways businesses can promote productivity within their remote workforce.
A recent State of Remote Work report deems loneliness to be the biggest struggle with working remotely. In order to mitigate this and ensure remote employees stay well connected, businesses can leverage digital tools and assistive technologies that enable social exchanges, regardless of location or physical capability. Project management applications that incorporate comment and tagging systems can provide this functionality, as well as instant messaging tools.
Firms may also employ talent management systems to weave social exchanges into the learning initiatives and friendly competitions that incentivize workforce development and productivity. Furthermore, dedicated employee rewards applications offer the chance to express upward or downward gratitude digitally as well as provide the opportunity to give a shout out to teammates. These technologies help hiring managers to connect remote team-mates and make virtual employees feel like they are contributing to the company culture. This is a huge motivator for workers who find mobility difficult as a result of an injury or disability and otherwise would feel isolated or removed from a working environment.
Businesses can leverage meeting tools to create virtual forums that promote inclusion and productivity. Equipping meeting rooms with video chat and screen-sharing capabilities offers remote employees an additional means to interface with their on-site co-workers. Assistive video-conferencing technology, in particular, helps workers with physical disabilities such as hearing impairment or paralysis participate and contribute in a meeting setting.
As the technology further proliferates, Virtual reality (VR) also provides options to meet virtually, as if everyone were in the same room. VR, as well as augmented or mixed reality, creates a sense of environmental presence, which is helpful for comradery and engagement. These emerging technologies offer robust collaboration tools and can make employees, regardless of physical ability, feel as though they are physically present in ways ordinary video chat cannot.
Remote work provides additional schedule flexibility without the possibility for in-person check-ins. This can be incredibly valuable for hiring managers with a disparate remote workforce. Therefore, it is especially important to use scheduling or time-tracking apps, in addition to digital messengers, in order to coordinate remote workforces.
This practice helps to organize virtual meetings and project deadlines, in addition to ensuring employees are using their time efficiently. The value of logging this data for project management and record keeping must balance against the time it takes employees to input this data, as well as potential perceptions of micro-management. A clear and honest discourse surrounding this data, combined with the use of intuitive software to house it, will help to strike that balance. It will ultimately save employees time and offer them peace of mind when logging their activities.
Although much of the value of remote work lies in the opportunity for employees to live and work anywhere, there are also benefits to geographically clustering employees when possible. As companies hire remote workers from across the country, they may put a focus on grouping some of them. Additionally, clustering remote workers near satellite offices or other company hubs can help give remote workers a central command and contribute to organizational hierarchy. This is especially prevalent in multinational companies. Doing so may consist of prioritizing remote job opportunities into regions.
This strategy provides benefits to businesses and offers groups of remote workforces the chance to periodically convene in person without having to travel potentially long distances to the central office. This is especially beneficial for disabled workers because it eliminates the need for them to travel unnecessary distances. It gives employees the option to conduct these periodic face-to-face meetings with team members and facilitates a sense of togetherness that corresponds with increases in productivity. However, companies need to bear in mind the purpose of remote work, especially for employees who have difficulty working in-office, and avoid reducing the flexibility in hiring locations too much.
As remote workforces grow, firms will continuously seek to maximize their productivity. Recent innovations in collaborative technology, time-keeping software, and strategic grouped hiring help hiring managers and employees with differing levels of physical ability stay productive and engaged. When companies simultaneously promote inclusion and productivity, all levels of the organization benefit.
For more on how to increase productivity in remote teams, contact the Getting Hired team.