“I hate to be the one to tell the boss, but it’s time for me to start taking my tips on how to work from home seriously,” wrote Gary Player, a licensed financial planner in San Francisco. He has been on the job for 25 years, and every year he gets more serious about how he spends his time (and money). His long-time advice to employees is to “think before you speak,” and this includes his annual holiday bash that his bosses have put off for another year. Here’s what he says:
“My tips on how to work from home are to stay focused and determined. It’s easier to talk to people who are sitting behind a computer than it is to talk to people who are actually working Remote Jobs from home. And I don’t just mean physically writing emails back and forth – although that certainly helps. My biggest tip to reoccurring remote workers is to get them trained in how to use a computer and Internet in general.”
Here’s an example of what Williams has told his own reoccurring remote workers: “If they ask me whether I have something important to tell them, I’ll say, ‘Yes. What? Don’t you want to know what it is?” The employees invariably respond by looking puzzled, then saying something like, “You said you had to do it.” The Reynolds then says something like, “Don’t you want to have a better memory so that you won’t forget what you promised to do?”
If the boss seems like he is constantly going to remind people to do things, but no one seems like they are listening, it may be time for an upgrade. “One of the problems I’ve seen with reoccurring remote workers is that they never seem to remember anything,” says William Sears, coauthor of Why Great Companies Get Better Results and cohost of the Brainstorming Series with Nicholas chamberlin. “If they come in for a meeting and they go blank on what to do next, I immediately begin a series of questions that drives them to find out what they need to do.” This technique works wonders and often produces amazing results. The Reynolds may not remember everything the boss says, but they will remember what they were supposed to do and how to do it.
The boss who like to constantly remind people to get it done, but has no real way of getting people to actually do it, might benefit from a weekly progress report. “A week on, two off…that’s not enough,” says Sears. “So I suggest creating a form where people can just punch in their goals and achievements for the week and it will give them a visual reminder of what needs to be done.” Another helpful method that many bosses use is audio communication. “I record a short audio file where I talk directly to the remote worker,” says Sears. “That seems to create a powerful effect.” Audio progress reports also create a sense of urgency – if you don’t get this task done by a certain date, someone else is going to get it done with less effort than you have.
As you can see, the Reynolds recommended some very specific methods for improving employee motivation. They don’t really define “motivation”, but they do say that it is having or experiencing a great deal of passion for what you do. In addition, the book also suggests that one of the keys to organizational success is communication and open lines of communication. If you take some of these recommendations and implement them, you will likely find that your remote workers are happier and more productive, and they seem to put more energy into the tasks at hand.