This time of year, workers are starting to make their holiday travel plans. But if your company offers the option to work remotely, your employees might choose to stay connected to the office while they're visiting relatives and opening gifts.
A recent survey by West Unified Communications Services (West UC) found that 17 percent of full-time workers view working from a vacation spot as a practical reason to take advantage of their company's remote work policy. Some employees might not have enough vacation days at the end of the year to splurge on a full week of PTO, so many resort to using remote work days instead, said Rob Bellmar, executive vice president of business operations at West UC.
"Remote [work] and vacation policies can differ dramatically by industry and job level," Bellmar said. "For instance, some employees might not be allowed to work remotely due to their company's security/IT policies. However, HR departments [may] encourage workers to take their PTO to prevent burnout and maintain employee engagement."
Keeping the "work" in working vacation
Employees might not work at their full capacity if they're traveling, but if they do commit to a working vacation, it's important that you, as a manager, set them up for success with the right tools and clear expectations. [See Related Story: Tech Gadgets for Your Working Vacation]
"Since we can do all three [email, phone and instant messaging] from one device nowadays, it's becoming even more important [that] workers stay in touch with their colleagues and managers from anywhere, when they're supposed to be plugged in," Bellmar said.
If you plan to allow employees to work remotely for an extended period of time, such as over the holidays, follow these tips from Bellmar for a seamless transition.
Establish a communication cadence. Frequent check-ins should be prioritized in a remote setting to ensure ongoing feedback between manager and employee, Bellmar said. Doing this with remote workers will keep a pulse on pending projects.
You should also be sure that employees have full access to the communication tools they need to stay in touch with colleagues and supervisors. The West UC survey found that email was the tool that the most respondents said they needed (76 percent). Mobile phones were a close second, at 74 percent.
Use videoconferencing. Collaboration tools can fuel team bonding and productivity if used correctly. Video is an especially powerful way to connect and engage remote teams, so employees should use it if the technology is accessible while they're on vacation, Bellmar said.
Maintain office culture. The typical tactics to help build culture — water cooler conversations and happy hours — can be difficult to replicate for remote workers. Bellmar noted that quick fixes, such as building some extra time into meetings to catch up or leveraging instant messaging for casual conversations, can go a long way.
The West UC survey was based on the responses of 300 full-time U.S. employees.