More and more employees are working remotely these days. In fact, experts are expecting more than half of all employees will be working from home on a regular basis by 2022. That will present a significant shift in how employers manage their teams and keep employees productive. Working from home can be full of distractions for some people, and even those who are able to stay on task for eight hours a day may find it hard to say no to turning on the TV or taking a two-hour lunch. Fortunately, there are a few different golden rules employers can make use of to keep their remote teams productive.
Change your Hiring Process
How many times have you seen the perfect resume come across your desk only to meet the candidate in person and see that they have blue hair, a nose ring, or a large tattoo on their arm? For some employers, this is an immediate turn-off. They don’t want someone working in their office who may not fit in with everyone else. While there’s definitely debate about what is and is not an appropriate look for the office, that debate can be set aside if you’re hiring someone who will be working from home. In fact, many employers who are doing remote hires do a phone or online interview and don’t know what the other person looks like. Some employers do want to have a face to face interview, of course, if the candidate lives close enough to do so.
While appearance may no longer play a part in your hiring process, there is one thing that needs more focus: motivation and focus. If you hire someone who simply isn’t that motivated to go to work or doesn’t have the focus to do their job without getting distracted, you’re going to have a problem. When interviewing, it’s important to ask questions that will lead potential candidates to talk about their motivation and to stress that they have to meet deadlines.
You can also expand your search parameters to include those in other cities, states, or even countries. When it comes to working remotely, there’s no difference between an employee who is several miles from you and an employee who is several hundred. Looking further for potential candidates can mean finding better-qualified employees.
Focus on Goals, Not Work Time
If you’re working in an office, you expect to see your employees at their desks for the full work day. When employees work from home, however, you don’t necessarily know when they’re working. Some may get up early and have put in a full work day by three in the afternoon, while others might not start their work until ten or eleven in the morning and work later. Having this freedom is one of the biggest advantages of working remotely, and it’s one that you shouldn’t try to control. Trying to force too much structure on your remote employees is only going to make them less efficient and feel like they’re being micro-managed.
Instead, focus on goals. If everyone is meeting their deadlines and turning in quality work, when they’re working doesn’t necessarily matter. However, you don’t want to learn someone is missing a deadline on the day the project is due. That’s why you need to make sure you keep up with your employees in a few different ways:
- Have regular virtual meetings with the entire team to discuss the status of each project and get reports on where each person is.
- Have quarterly team goals for each team member to meet to keep them motivated.
- Provide team members with the tools needed for them to track their progress and time on tasks.
- Offer encouragement and help those who are falling short of their goals, learn new time management skills.
Make use of the Cloud
The cloud can serve as your virtual office, allowing you and your remote employees to share files and other information no matter where you’re located. With secure logins and other protection, you don’t have to worry about losing anything, and you can give each employee their own access level so they can only retrieve files you’ve cleared them for.
But the cloud can do more than that. For instance, you can make use of a cloud-based business phone system that will give all of your employees their own business phone number so customers and clients can contact them. There are several benefits of this system:
- There are no long distance charges.
- Employees don’t have to give out their home phone numbers.
- Employees can make use of their cloud-based number on a variety of different devices, so they can take calls no matter where they are.
- Cloud-based phone systems have all the features of a traditional phone system, including voice mail, call forwarding and conference calling.
- Many of these systems offer video conferencing, too, which is great for team meetings.
Have Meet Ups
Even if you didn’t have a face to face interview with some of your employees, try to have meet ups from time to time. If your team is local, you might want to do this monthly or quarterly. If you have employees who would have to travel, perhaps a yearly holiday party would be better. Either way, having face to face time can be vital in managing your employees and keeping them focused. It reminds everyone that they’re more than just an email address or face on a screen.
It’s also a time to bond as individuals. People who work together in an office celebrate birthdays, have casual Friday, and may get together outside of work from time to time. Doing something like that regularly with your remote employees will help foster that sense of being a team, and that will help motivate them.
These are just a few of the ways that you can manage your remote employees and help keep them focused on work. Do you have any additional tips, or have you found one of these tips to be particularly helpful? We’d love to hear from you.