Mobility has changed the way U.S. companies are doing business. The telecommuting population has grown by 140 percent since 2005, nearly 10 times faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed, according to the latest statistics from GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics.com. The IDC predicts that there will be 105.4 million mobile workers in the U.S. in 2020 — 72.3 percent of the total U.S. workforce.
Telecommuting offers a number of advantages to both employers and employees. For employers, there are cost efficiencies, increased employee production, reduced turnover and access to a wider pool of talent from which to recruit. Mobile workers enjoy flexibility, the elimination of time-consuming commutes, a better work-life balance and lack of interruptions.
As the ranks of mobile workers have grown, so has the variety of managed mobility solutions available to companies to help control costs, keep security measures in place and up to date, and monitor employee activity. Collaboration tools such as Skype, Google Calendar, SharePoint, Yammer, Asana, Mind Meister, Red Pen, Go Visually and Spoke enable remote workers to produce quality work via email, telephone and teleconference or videoconference.
But collaboration can accomplish only so much when there is no real common ground, no sense of community or culture.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” goes the overused quote from John C. Maxwell. Most people aren’t aware that the last part of that quote is “…but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” And this underscores a unique challenge of mobility — team building despite physical distance. It may be more complicated to foster a sense of unity among people who don’t regularly interact with each other on a face-to-face basis, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
“In order to build good team communications, people need to know, like and trust each other, and sometimes we need to create these opportunities,” said Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute. Here are five ways that can be done.
Whether conducted as a conference call or videoconference, regular group meetings are a way for mobile workers to touch base with status updates, both professional and personal. A few moments of “chit-chat” before the conversation turns strictly business helps mobile workers relate to one another as individuals and not just co-workers. Updates should be two-way as well: Maintaining complete transparency and keeping mobile employees up-to-date on company news is important in making them feel a part of the company culture.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 64 percent of working Americans leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated. In a Gallup survey, 70 percent of working Americans said they receive no …