Integrating Mobile Workers Into Your Team by Harriet Banks

2020 was a transformative year in many ways, and many people have had to adjust to the new reality. According to an article by the European Alternatives, at least 17 million EU citizens had to work or live in another area from their place of origin in 2020. This is due to several factors including education, family ties, financial necessity, and perhaps the most important one, work.

While this presents companies with unique challenges such as streamlining the workflow, cultivating a sense of belonging for staff, and simply becoming a cohesive team, there are undoubtedly more benefits to mobile work for both the workers and the company. For one, mobile work allows people to seek employment opportunities, and companies are able to tap a pool of talented workers regardless of their proximity and location.

As offices continue to operate and are becoming more accustomed to the hybrid workspace (physical and virtual), it’s likely that the opportunities for mobile work will continue to grow. But it’s important to note that you need to actively take measures to integrate these mobile workers into your team.

 

Have a Proper Onboarding Process

Onboarding a new hire is absolutely necessary for them to be oriented with company operations and culture. And while you may already have a dependable onboarding process for office-based and full-time employees, the same approach may not be as effective for mobile workers coming into your company.

A Verizon Connect feature on gig workers details how you need a comprehensive integration and onboarding process for new mobile team members, lest these workers feel isolated from the rest of the organisation. This disconnect could impact workers’ performance, and ultimately reduce their productivity. There’s a difference between welcoming a new team member with a handshake and just sending them an email containing onboarding documents. And why you may not be able to physically welcome a new mobile worker, you can take time to do an onboarding conference call, complete with visual cues and documents.

 

Keep Lines of Communication Open

As the age-old adage goes: Out of sight, out of mind. This can be very true, not to mention disheartening, for mobile workers. It’s difficult to keep up and form relationships with teammates who are physically distant. This can definitely be remedied by video calls, but it’s still essential for you to work on having a personal connection with your mobile workers. Career advice site Zety founder Kuba Koziej emphasises how managers have an important role in cultivating open communication.

Koziej says that leaders must keep employees in the loop, and be forthcoming to allow staff to share their sentiments—even the difficult ones. This helps elicit vital feedback and information, and improves the company’s ability to make the worker experience an even better one. You can do all of this virtually through video and messaging platforms like Zoom and Slack.

 

Foster Team Bonding

It’s challenging for a mixed team of full-time office workers and mobile workers to find opportunities to interact within the workspace. It has become even more challenging since the pandemic hit and everyone has had to socially distance. But these don’t change the fact that team members must come together and converse in a casual environment, as this boosts workplace morale and instils a sense of community.

Just because activities like coffee breaks or company lunches are currently not advisable, doesn’t mean that your team can no longer do things together. A Green Apple write-up on virtual team-building exercises lists a variety of alternatives, like hosting a virtual trivia or Bingo game night. You can even send out a thoughtful lunch to your staff and set up a virtual call so you can eat together. In fact, it could be as simple as having huddles where everyone can share what’s going on in their lives outside of work.

 

Recognise and Reward Workers

There’s a need to realise that each worker now comes into a company with unique, individual skills regardless of age, gender or race, as we talked about in detail in our previous article by Vinay Singh. Recognise what members bring to the table at a personal level, since the one-size-fits all model of employee skills is a thing of the past. This is even more evident in mobile workers, as they have a unique set of skills fit for your company.

Amplify this recognition by turning them into incentives and rewards. As Chron business journalist Kristen Hamlin reports, a survey revealed that rewarding employees spurs them to work harder and become more productive. On top of monetary rewards, you can put out a company-wide message lauding and congratulating the great work a mobile worker’s done. This shows how much each team member is valued in your organisation. In turn, workers can build trust with the workplace and become motivated to do even better.

The modern office looks nothing like it once did; there’s now a mix of employees ranging from in-office to part-time staff, to mobile workers. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help mould all these individuals into a united team.

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Harriet Banks is passionate about business leadership and management. Her goal is to aid businesses in creating the most effective workforce possible. When she isn't advising she loves to travel with her husband.