Remote working is on the rise. Virgin Media Business has predicted that 60% of employees will frequently work from home by 2022. Currently, 24% of employees in the US report working from home at least part of the time, while in the UK 13.9% of the workforce is made up of home workers. Businesses are recognising the importance of flexible work arrangements in helping employees achieve a better work-life balance, in potentially improving workplace productivity by 71%, as well as the ability to source staff from a wider talent pool and bring in the skills needed.
If your business has already caught on to the trend, or is at least thinking about getting some staff working from home, how can you make sure your remote workers are motivated and performing at their best?
The number one mistake for managers is to try and watch what remote workers are doing all of the time. You should be able to trust your employees and they should respond to that trust. While it’s certainly important to continue face-to-face communication like you would in an office environment, you don’t need to be calling employees up every five minutes. Google Hangouts and Skype calls, or paid software such as Yammer, JoinMe and GoToMeeting, are great for calls when you do need them. Don’t be tempted to micromanage because it will most likely backfire.
One of the biggest pitfalls is inviting employees to work remotely but not setting milestones for what work they should have achieved by a specific date in the future. Even the most productive employees who are getting on with their projects can stumble without set deadlines, and that could have a knock-on effect on other team members who have dependencies. You can simply create an online Google calendar with work milestones, colour coded by department or employee, or even make use of a project management software such as Teamwork or Pivotal Tracker to make this even clearer.
Don’t Skimp On Training
Just because employees aren’t location-based doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get regular training. Keeping employees up to date and on the ball will make them feel valued and result in increased success for your business. There are plenty of opportunities for training online, from reading research papers, blog articles or watching tutorial videos like those available on Udemy. A good way to integrate this is to ask employees to regularly read a relevant blog during the last twenty minutes of their work day, or to send a video link to a new tutorial each week. Companies can also invest in grander online and even bespoke training courses for employees across the business.
Provide Remote Working Software
I’ve already mentioned providing software for the purposes of communication and project management, but to really get the most out of your remote workers it’s worth rolling out software for every aspect of the work day. Dropbox and Google Drive can be used to store and share work files, apps like Hubstaff can be used log work hours and take screenshots of work being done, and online software such as OneTouchTeam can keep track of staff absences and manage annual leave. Don’t be tempted to over complicate the software available to your remote workers but do make sure to have a well-organised system in place.
Getting the most out of your remote workers doesn’t need to be rocket science. Keep them in the loop, give them the tools they need to organise them and make sure they’re clear on what work needs to be achieved by when.
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