Only 10% of employees thrive working remotely—here’s how to find them and build a more empowered workforce

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According to RingCentral’s research, only 1 in 10 employees are remote champions. These “champions” are people who are happier and more productive when working remotely—and they’re more important to your team than you might expect.

Given that these remote champions are so uncommon, finding them and turning them into pillars of your remote culture can be a boon for you and your entire team. When you have an empowered workforce, it will lift your team and bring out everyone’s star potential.

Observe social cues to build an empowered workforce

If you want to understand which employees are struggling or thriving, remain in close communication and observe subtle clues. The more trust and open communication you have built with your team, the simpler it will be to see who’s doing well and who is struggling silently behind their computer screen.

Signs your workforce is struggling

Talking to your teammates regularly, even if you’re not asking direct questions about their workflow, can provide insight into how they’re managing their work, experts say.

“If every time you call, they’re just about to start something, you know, you’ve got somebody who’s stuck; you’ve got somebody who is grappling with something,” explains Amie Devero, a professional management consultant. “You can’t see if they’re sitting at their desk with their head in their hands or if they’re attentive and engaged. You have to pick up a phone and talk to people you’re managing.”

Some business leaders have started using a variation of the popular test for scoring babies’ health, known as the APGAR stress test, to check if their employees and colleagues are burnt out. The acronym APGAR stands for appearance, performance, growth, affect control, and relationships.

By checking things like energy levels, ability to manage workload, and how your employees interact with your colleagues, you can get a good sense of how someone is doing.

“We carry thousands of emotions in our faces, and I think having at least some of your meetings with the camera on is really important,” says Darcy Boles, the head of employee experience at remote company TaxJar, and an expert in remote company culture.

“It’s really important to see facial expressions, and I do believe in weekly tracking sessions, in asking deeper questions and building relationships,” Boles continues. “People can say that remote makes work less human because we’re not in the office, but I disagree. I think it makes us much more human.”

Signs you have an empowered workforce

According to a survey from software company Buffer, 20% of remote workers said that communication is an obstacle for them. While that isn’t the majority of respondents, it’s still a sign that communication is something to pay attention to when you’re looking to build an empowered workforce.

“Am I sharing myself, and am I inviting others to share themselves with me? It may sound like this is tangential to performance, but it isn’t because what it’s telling you is that this person has the freedom to engage fully,” Devero says.

“If your mind is preoccupied with despair or loneliness or frustration or dissatisfaction, there’s a part of you you’re holding back. Whereas if you’re in some natural state of flow, you have the freedom to be with the people around you fully.”

Learn to identify the many faces of remote champions

Individual personality types and working styles play a significant role in whether someone is a champion of remote work, and not all remote champions are identical to one another. These are some of the examples of personality types that can thrive in a remote environment:

Empower remote champions to take the lead

Once you’ve figured out which of your employees is a remote champion, it’s time to find ways that will allow their enthusiasm to bleed into the rest of the team and build an empowered workforce. That can mean finding ways to get their input or actively involve them in ensuring that your remote team’s work culture is healthy and robust.

According to Devero, managers can leverage what a remote champion is good at without showing favoritism.

“The danger is that somebody is a star, and then you neglect everybody else. So, give them positions of responsibility that require them to engage with their teammates,” Devero says.

“You don’t ever want to take your star and have them overshadow the rest of the team. You want to bring the rest of the team up to their level.”

Remote champions boost morale and productivity

Having a remote champion on your team can boost morale by showing the other colleagues that it’s possible to work optimally outside of an office.

When that person works to hype up the rest of their team, they can strengthen employee relationships, help build team cohesion, and boost everyone’s productivity.

Discover RingCentral’s hybrid work solutions here.

Originally published May 06, 2021

Discover RingCentral's hybrid work solutions

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