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#WFH: What Motivates Remote Workers?

Ignoring virtual workers because it is harder to measure performance is self-defeating. Supporting people to do the job well in a virtual environment requires positive communication and learning opportunities. Performance can be effected by in-formation systems and inappropriate design of an organization. Some basic areas to address include competitive pay, benefits, equipment to do the job, levels of authority and responsibility, control, tools and organizational culture. Serious issues in any of these areas can create an environment where turn-over is high and performance effectiveness is low. There is an old adage that says, “hire the right people for the job and pay them well.” Virtual workers also need motivation to stay engaged and much of this comes in the form of feeling like they belong and are appreciated and supported.

Incentives can come in many forms. Clear performance expectations; clear criteria for promotion, stability and security; co-worker relationships; and a supportive, rewarding working environment are only a few. In this regard, virtual workers are not that different than traditional workers, only these things play an even bigger part in their loyalty and satisfaction. Performance management in the virtu-al environment needs to inspire and not be used as a punishment. Just like in the F2F workplace, virtual workers and supervisors need a process in place to deal with serious issues. Performance management should focus on positive factors and growth, not dealing with misconduct and retribution.

Autonomy requires self-direction, independence and accountability. The power is with the in-dividual and comes from the inside out. It is not top down. It is not implemented by outside controls. It is not authoritarian or constricting. Autonomy is the ability to act independently and be responsible for your actions. Autonomy requires a bottom up approach to performance management. Organizations need to respect the individual and trust them if they are going to require autonomy. Performance in the virtual environment also requires clear communication of objectives and targets. Targets that are un-realistic, always changing and not assessable won’t work. The virtual workplace is about planning and execution.

Measurement takes on new meaning and re-quires different effort. Clear communication that is consistent and relevant impacts outcomes. Sharing goals and objectives needs to be open, honest and done on a daily (or nearly daily) basis. Channels of communication can follow the organizational cul-ture and structure but they must also emphasize each individual’s importance and relevance to success. Both formal and informal communication channels are valuable and need to remain open. Closing any channels of communication for any reason can lead to higher turnover and poor morale. Both of those contribute directly to poor performance for individ-uals, teams and the organization.

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