As business grows and the challenge of managing all your employees becomes greater, you may begin to hear requests that staff members be allowed to work from home. For workers, the benefits are numerous – it’s more comfortable and convenient to operate in one’s natural environment, without outside distractions or stressors. But for bosses, it can be a tricky proposition.
Managing a remote workforce is challenging – you’re forced to juggle tasks and responsibilities between those workers who are located in the office and those who aren’t, and communication must be seamless between the two factions. It’s not always easy to stay on top of things when some workers are remote, but it might be necessary. If employees live far away, or if they’re juggling in-home responsibilities like spouses and children, allowing them to work on the homefront might be the best way to go.
If you find yourself managing remote employees, here are a few tips for making the most of the practice.
Always be communicating
One of the most important attributes of a good boss is the ability to communicate. When you’re dealing with remote workers, this becomes even more true. Including your distant employees in group emails or inviting them to join conference calls is the bare minimum. You can certainly do more if the situation warrants. Consider reaching out to your workers at home by calling or texting them daily, just to keep them abreast of business developments. Face time is beneficial whenever possible – either ask them to come in weekly or monthly for meetings, or arrange video conferences. In any event, keep lines of communication possible.
Cultivate teamwork and inclusion
It can be easy for remote workers to feel left out, especially when they’re having rough days. Go out of your way to remind them that they’re included. By holding company dinners or parties and inviting them, you can let your employees know that even if they’re not a part of the office physically, they’re still in the group socially. Teamwork-building events are a way of fostering company morale and ultimately making your business more productive.
Remote workers aren’t in the office every day to hear from you in person how a project is progressing, so be sure to give them feedback when you can. No employee can improve without guidance from supervisors, so your criticism – both positive and negative – is vital. It’s also important to note that feedback is a two-way street. You should be sharing opinions on how your workers are progressing, but you should be willing to listen to them as well.
Let employees work in their preferred settings
Different employees have different preferences as far as time and location. Some are early risers, while some prefer to work late. Some like to work in their home offices or bedrooms, while others relocate to libraries or quiet coffee shops. Ultimately, none of the above should matter to you – as long as employees are getting their work done, it’s fine to take the hands-off approach and let them work how they choose.
Reap the financial benefits
Business Management Daily notes that remote workers can help generate huge savings for their employers. For example, the staff of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Washington spends 30 percent of its hours at home, on average. As a result, the organization was able to move out of the office building it had occupied since the 1980s, relocating to a facility that’s half the size. The result is about $500,000 in rent saved each year.
Visibility Does not Equal Productivity
This really goes back to “trusting” your employees. Remote workers are generally independent and appreciate being trusted to work independently. Managers must be careful not to micro-manage; asking for daily diaries, the installation of remote cameras to monitor employees throughout the day, etc. These practices undermines trust and can seriously decrease motivation. Rather than micromanaging remote employees, work on developing a dynamic in which they take personal responsibility for meeting their objectives. Focus on the the employee meeting their goals and objectives rather than their visibility throughout the day.
Managing remote workers might seem daunting, but it can also be tremendously beneficial. What has been your experience letting employees work from home?