Embracing work, not the office

Three lessons for executives and directors leading a remote workforce

Today, “going to work” doesn’t necessarily specify where you go, but what you do.

The era of the desk-based workplace is coming to an end. Mobile technology and communications tools empower the deskless workforce to tackle responsibilities on the go, from anywhere at any time.

Surprisingly, remote workers report feeling more productive outside the central office, according to a recent survey. As much as we need meetings, love our office chatter, and gravitate toward other distractions, these dispersed employees actually feel happier, more valued, and more focused.

But remote work comes with challenges. How do employees remain part of a company culture and engage colleagues beyond in-person interactions? I see it here at Sitrion. Our team operates across various locations and even continents, whether it’s at our corporate headquarters, a local coffee shop, or from home. Frequent contact between management and employees becomes critical – and believe me, it is hard. As is maintaining clear communication of goals and transparency on all level.

All my meetings are held via video to make it a personal interaction. Company-wide meetings are streamed live and recorded for later viewing, and any questions can be asked and then answered.

But what does this mean for business leaders? How do we maintain productivity, influence company culture, and engage our employees in this new remote world?

Here are a few thoughts on that subject:

1. Reach people through mobile

The people have spoken: Mobile is the way of the future. Almost the entire growth of digital consumption in the past few years has been on mobile devices, and that trend is only going to continue.

In order to guarantee a constant connection with our deskless employees, we must design and optimise our systems for mobile usage. If we don’t, we risk leaving a major percentage of our workforce lost and adrift. With 72 per cent of all employees using mobile devices for work, anything that is not mobile is destined to fail.

2. Aggregate for simplicity

We used to design systems for their owners – like HR for HR and IT for IT. While those groups are important for the overall operation of a business, they don’t provide the core value for consumers. It is the engineers, the salespeople, the nurses, the claims managers, and the like who ensure customers keep coming back. To make life easy and efficient for these essential employees, we need to aggregate key services like HR, communication, and news.

Depth and simplicity are not enemies. We shouldn’t ask people to constantly navigate multiple applications. We should bring services and information to them in a simple, aggregated format.

3. Maintain a personal touch

We may be getting our work done at home, but the lack of physical proximity can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from team members. It’s important for leaders and managers to address these emotions in our employees.

Over-communication is essential to making remote employees feel like part of the team. Ensure that communication remains personal and relevant to each individual so that they feel the company values their contributions. Get on a video chat, ask about their days, and prove that personal connections are still a part of the job.

The core of any business has never been housed in a central location. The core is in the value we offer our customers. Today’s technology has given us the power to provide more value and better work than ever before – no matter where we are.

This article was adapted from two separate pieces from Daniel –  “Embrace the work, not the office” on the Sitrion blog and “The Central Office Is Dying. Long Live the Remote Workforce!” on Recruiter.

Daniel Kraft

Daniel Kraft is the president and CEO of social and mobile technology innovation company Sitrion. He is passionate about innovation in the workplace, with a particular interest in social collaboration, mobile work style and the integration of work and life. He is public speaker on various topics involving employee engagement and productivity and has been featured on TEDx. Daniel has held executive positions in several leading enterprise software companies and worked in North America, Europe and Asia.