Researchers estimate that 43% of adults who are employed have worked part of their schedule remotely. The trend is expected to continue to grow, as more and more employers outsource some of their jobs, and as employers seek to hire employees on flextime. In addition, many companies have found that they are able to downsize their offices since workers are out of the office, which saves them money on property or rent.
However, there are tricks to having employees who work remotely remain productive and efficient. Not sure if you are managing your remote workers effectively? Here are some tips to think about.
Focus on Goals, Not On Work Time and Learn to Trust Your Employees
It can be difficult to let employees go remote if you have spent your career managing people who are in the same office complex as you. Because the employees are remote, you have no way of stopping by their offices on the way to the water cooler and checking in with them, and you can’t really see them slacking off from across the country.
Experts say that you have to learn to trust your employees to get their work done in an efficient manner. In order to effectively do this, you will need to establish goals or targets for each employee. When each employee has a deadline and work that must be completed, it is not hard to see if there is an employee who needs to step up their game and one who is really working hard. Remember, it is not the amount of time the employee spends working on a project, it is whether or not the work is done well and the employee meets the target.
In other words, you have to trust that the employee will do their jobs. It doesn’t matter if they begin the job at 6 o’clock in the morning, and are finished by noon, or if they start work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon and finish the work at 10 o’clock at night. If both employees are meeting their targets and getting the job done, that is the most important thing.
Make Use of Cloud Technology and Communicate Effectively
One of the most difficult parts of having remote employees is being able to communicate with them effectively, especially if they are scattered across the globe in several different time zones. In order to have effective communication, you will need to first be sure that you have a strong communication system in place, then you need to set guidelines for efficient and effective communication.
First, be sure your small business phone system is ready to go and can handle conference calls with ease. No one likes waiting on dropped calls or problems with the telephone system when they all have jobs to do. Second, make sure that you are able to take advantage of video conferencing from time to time, as it makes some conferences easier when you can look at your employees while you’re talking to them. Screen share programs also work well, especially for collaboration.
You also need to be sure your company has to have a document sharing system that allows employees to collaborate on the same document or project. Employees should also be able to communicate within the document to make changes and add important information.
Finally, be sure you establish protocols for communication for your employees. You need to make sure that all of your employees know when they are expected to communicate with their teammates –especially when they are running late on a project, or when they will be away from their desk. The use of communication tools and protocols help your employees ensure productivity.
Water Cooler Conversations and Annual Get-Togethers
If remote employees and managers have a difficult time communicating effectively, the opposite is also true. Employees who work remotely have talked about the lack of sociability and their feelings of remoteness and isolation. Employees who decide not to work remotely anymore cite isolation as one of the factors for their job change.
If managers want to manage employees who are working remotely effectively, they will need to reach out to individual team members and communicate with them on non-work-related things, like families and travels. Also, many managers assign collaborative tasks to team members on a monthly basis, so they are able to stay in communication with each other, and talk about non-work objects, so that they may be able to establish friendships and increase their collegiality.
If possible, managers should also put into the business budget some money to have a yearly get together in a centralized location for your employees, so that they can meet and build a rapport, which leads to a greater sense of trust between team members. For example, one company saves a percentage of the money they are saving from their remote employees and invests in a yearly trip for their entire remote team, which has been very successful in employee recruitment and retention, as employees look forward to the trip as a way to get out of the office and spend time together.
Finally, give your employees a chance to bond every week. Create forums where employees can share their business success as well as personal successes –maybe their child just won a trophy in the school’s art contest, for example. Some remote companies have one meeting every week, in which each employee shares one business item and one personal item that went well from the week before. If employees feel connected, they will be able to work more effectively together and will be better able to work remotely for the rest of the week. The key to having remote employees isn’t that difficult to understand. If you set targets and goals for the employees to finish if you have a strong communication system for employees to use, and if you build in time for employees to get together and bond, your company is well on its way to having a great remote experience and a successful future.
Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and startups to make effective business decisions and plan effective business strategies. With years of rich domain expertise, he loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.
(Focus on Goals, Not On Work Time and Learn to Trust Your Employees) was spot on as well. I am currently leading a group of 7 remotely and trust/strategic goal setting is absolutely key!