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The secrets to engaging a remote workforce

Inspiring a workforce is one thing, but finding out how to truly motivate them is the key to a thriving workplace and business, writes ONTHEGO founder and CEO Mick Spencer. 

In 2012, when I founded OTG, I wanted to have a team of people who had the freedom to work wherever they wanted, who were passionate and felt a genuine connection with what OTG was trying to achieve.

At our core, we're a start-up; but as we mature and grow into a successful business working with some heavy-hitting household brands, it's important for me to look at the reasons why we have a thriving business. That reason comes down to the people who make OTG.

At OTG, one in four employees work remotely, either from home, different cities or different countries. And as a result, it leads to a highly engaged and productive workforce. By allowing each of our employees the freedom to complete work in their chosen location, we have seen productivity increase and staff satisfaction soar.

There's a few key factors that have contributed to OTG's success that we are diligent about to maintain a happy working ecosystem. To be employed at OTG, we need to feel that the employee has a genuine connection to the business and its goals, they're our only real mandatories. If culturally you're the right fit, then being in a remote location isn't a barrier to being hired.

With a remote workforce nationally, it's important to promote inclusiveness and transparency, and technology plays a key role in enhancing communication and team cohesion.

On a daily basis, teams communicate through Whatsapp, WeChat and Slack. To create and maintain a sense of community, we also have dedicated non-work related Slack channels and Whatsapp groups where employees can share random thoughts, wins, pain points and personal information about their life as they would if they were there in person.

Every week, the whole company is required to participate in a Monday Pow Wow where everyone participates in a Zoom video conference call, ensuring face-to-face communication between team members.

In today's digital age, face-to-face communication tends to happen less often. So at OTG, we make a conscious effort to ensure that face time happens. I believe that seeing everyone together on a video conference call builds stronger connections between colleagues, promotes a sense of community and ultimately makes for a better working relationship. It also helps putting names to faces and breaks down any impersonal barriers that can occur when simply communicating through email or chats.

One of the great things about the way we use technology at OTG is that remote workers can still lead meetings or presentations as if they were physically in the office. By using tools like screen share, TVs and live cameras in every office, we provide our staff with a seamless experience that emulates an in-person meeting as closely as possible.

Last month, OTG had its first company-wide on-site called "OTGCON" where all of our staff united in Canberra (where the OTG head office is) and participated in team bonding activities over two days. What really amazed me was seeing how close everyone was despite some of our staff meeting their colleagues for the first time in person.

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