There are many benefits to allowing employees to telecommute or hiring full-time remote staff. In fact, according to Baseline Magazine, telecommuting analytics indicate that 53 percent of telecommuters work more than 40 hours per week, whereas only 28 percent of office workers do. However, if you choose to go this more nontraditional route, you’ll also need to adjust your management tactics. A weekly meeting in the conference room, the yearly performance review, or noticing when a staff member goes over their allotted lunch hour are all things that don’t exist with remote employees. Here are a few tips on how to effectively manage remote workers, and also bring out their best performance.
- Get a Reliable System
Managing remote employees using video conferencing is your best bet to ensure that you stay on top of your staff and their progress. Due to the face-to-face component of video, using this type of technology is preferable as opposed to other modes of communication, such relying solely on text chat or e-mail to exchange information. While video conferencing can certainly be augmented by these standard communication methods, using a provider like Blue Jeans to interact with employees is advisable. One of the best parts of this type of system is that it’s not only scaleable for businesses of different sizes, but the video conferencing system is also extremely user-friendly. Today, your remote employee only needs a mobile device and Internet connection to conference with you.
- Don’t Let the Good Ones Go
Although there’s much talk these days about the Millennial workforce that’s so digitally savvy, they’ll expect telecommuting to be a standard option, don’t forget about the other side of the equation. If you have employees that have been in your service for many years, they’re probably getting ready to retire, taking much wisdom and experience with them. However, Global Workplace Analytics points out that, given the fact 75 percent of Boomer generation retirees want to keep working, telecommuting allows you to retain long-term, loyal employees by providing the flexibility to enjoy retirement while remaining in the workforce. Approaching staffing this way is an excellent tactic to keep the best of both old and new worlds via telecommuting.
- Set Up Routine Check-ins
Tweak Your Biz recommends setting up regular check-ins with remote workers, citing the need of managers to maintain contact with employees. While this doesn’t need to be at a set time during the day, it should be at set intervals, whether it’s once a week or once a day, depending on the staff person. If the employee is already part-time and working on a project for only a few hours per week, checking in once a day may not be necessary. Scale your check-in requirements to the scope of the position of the telecommuter. Another good rule of thumb is to take notes during these check-in periods, even if you’re only receiving a brief update about a project that’s in progress. As time passes in between each interaction, keeping a record is essential so you don’t forget.
- Don’t Expect Telecommuters to be Loners
Not all remote staff prefer to be alone, even if they’re not working within an office setting. In fact, according to Chief Learning Officer, telecommuters actually have a tendency to more actively keep in touch with teammates, due to the interdependent nature of jobs that require group efforts. Therefore, you shouldn’t approach off-site workers with the expectation that they prefer to be alone. Many times, telecommuters have various reasons for working from home, and may be very social individuals in their daily lives. For example, remote staff range from employees with busy families to freelancers that might not be on your permanent payroll. Approach telecommuters the same way you would your office staff as you get to know their personalities before drawing any preemptive conclusions.
- Redefine Performance Indicators
Assessing employee performance usually takes into account a combination of elements, such as productivity, quality of work output, keeping deadlines, and time management. However, many of these things aren’t applicable to remote workers since you can’t directly observe them during working hours. Therefore, you’ll need to come up with a new way to measure and judge off-site staff’s progress and performance. Fast Company recommends managing off-site workers by implementing quantifiable goals and productivity, rather than requiring a certain amount of face time. This requires hard numbers and results, and is also very difficult to hide inefficient time management if the work is simply not up to par.
Telecommuting has a lot of potential to help with business growth and innovative ways to yield even better results from employees. In an increasingly interconnected world where sitting at a physical desk is no longer a necessity, some self-regulating staff will fare much better in a remote working environment. If you decide to pursue this type of staffing option, then make sure to adjust your managerial approaches accordingly so you’ll be prepared.