The traditional workplace as it was known many (yes, many) years ago consisted of professionals housed in close proximity to the business or company that employed these individuals. Now, however, thanks to technology, this traditional work environment is increasingly being replaced by a location-independent workforce.
This ability to work anywhere has benefited both employer and employee: businesses can now easily tap into a highly skilled and experienced global talent pool, while professionals can enjoy the advantages of working flexible hours virtually unencumbered by the four walls of a cubicle.
But with these opportunities and advantages also come the downsides (mostly for companies), chief of them the fact that working with remote employees can also pose unique challenges. One of these challenges is how to keep an outsourced team motivated to do great work every time.
Here are three tactics that, when implemented well, can spell the difference between a highly motivated and enthusiastic workforce and individuals who won’t think twice about mailing in half-hearted work or even mailing in their resignation—to the detriment of all parties involved.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
In the beginning of this post, we’ve talked about how technology has made possible the phenomenon of digital nomads and how companies are now reaping the rewards of being able to find the perfect employee without being limited by geographical constraints, but it is nevertheless perplexing how businesses ignore this very same technology to communicate effectively with their employees.
Thanks to the Internet, communicating with outsourced employees through voice calls, email, and chat is free, but still, a lot of companies don’t utilize these tools on a regular basis to help build rapport with their workers. And make no mistake, communication should be the foundation of a company and its outsourced team: maintaining a good work relationship through communication builds trust between individuals, which not only ensures increased productivity but also results in a shared vision on how to meet goals and objectives.
Communication doesn’t only mean managers or bosses communicating directly with subordinates; employees also need to build rapport among themselves in order to work well together as a team. A good idea is to create a chatroom where members of the team can communicate informally with each other and even discuss non-work-related topics to unwind—without the boss looking over their shoulder, that is.
Provide your team with the right tools to keep them motivated
This is closely connected to the first point about communication: utilize technology to equip your outsourced team with the right tools that will not only help them do their jobs well, but will also keep them organized and well-informed. The right tools in place will ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to completing projects in an effective and timely manner.
There are a lot of free (and paid) tools out there that can help businesses provide their teams with a smooth and stress-free workflow, tools like project-management software, video conferencing, file sharing, online invoicing, online meeting tools, and the like. It’s up to these businesses to choose which tools are best for their particular industry, but the most important thing to remember is that these tools are just a means to an end: the bottom line is to keep team members happy, informed, productive, and properly motivated. After all, a well-motivated team works like a well-oiled machine.
Treat them with respect
Treating team members with respect can mean a lot of things. Mostly, though, dealing with professionals from the other side of the globe means respecting their time off work and respecting their holidays and culture.
Respecting someone’s time off work means not always expecting them to be connected to their laptops and smartphones 24/7 and to reply to a work-related email right away, especially if the company and the employee have already agreed on certain rest days in a week. Having an outsourced team doesn’t mean that members can’t disconnect from work: work is work and leisure time is just that—but sometimes businesses forget this, and there’s no easier way to demotivate outsourced employees than to make them feel that they are always at your beck and call.
Everyone deserves to unwind and to be able to take care of personal things, so it’s unfair to expect someone to get back to you 24 hours a day. Better yet, encourage outsourced employees to turn off their smartphones, tablets, or laptops and enjoy their time alone, with friends, or with family.
Respecting someone’s culture, on the other hand, also involves respecting holidays and customs and traditions. Businesses should always be mindful that different nationalities follow certain religious customs, for example, and that employees might need a couple days off from work in order to fulfill these religious obligations—work be damned. Something as simple as offering employees a few days’ vacation leave for them to be able to fulfill their religious obligations will go a long way in helping motivate these employees to work harder when they come back from their holiday.