In a 2018 study on the global state of remote work by Owl Labs, research showed that as much as 52% of employees worldwide work remotely at least once per week.
And, with a steady stream of new technologies as well as communication and task management platforms hitting the market, many tech companies are beginning to focus much more on recruiting remote workers.
As these new innovations in technology and communication continue to make telecommuting and virtual collaboration easier and more efficient, we can expect to see a further influx of remote workers in the future.
IT Ranks Second in Remote Workers
IT is among the most prevalent work-from-home careers today. In fact, according to a recent Gallup report on the modern workplace, the computer/information systems industry now holds the second highest percentage of remote workers, an increase from 54 percent in 2012 to 57 percent in 2016.
Furthermore, in 2016, the workers who felt most engaged while working remotely were those who spent 60-80 percent of their time away from the office.
As expectations and roles of tech and IT evolve, there are several reasons why these particular positions have successfully moved away from the traditional office setting, including:
- Highly Specialized Services Break Up Roles. With technological capabilities increasing by the day, IT is evolving into many different highly specialized areas. This means that one company may work with several different specialists or partner with a large IT firm to gain access to different areas of the computer information systems field.This industry has simply become too vast and diverse for modern companies to have a singular IT employee or team that can maintain specialized expertise throughout all facets of the field.
- Highly-Trained Tech Professionals Demand Workplace Flexibility. As highly-trained IT professionals improve and advance their skill sets, they are better positioned to request flexibility on where and when they want to work.
- Unlimited IT Expertise. Often these highly specialized IT professionals work independently, which means they have more than one client or employer. This arrangement allows them to make more money in their chosen profession over time. Hiring remote IT experts opens the door for partnering with a top IT firm. This lends unlimited IT expertise to your company.
How To Manage Remote Employees
So you’ve made the decision to employ remote IT professionals, but how exactly does that work? How will you keep them all up-to-date and hold them accountable as you would in-office employees? With so many of today’s top IT professionals demanding remote careers, it’s best to get ahead of the curve and determine solutions that work for you and your business.
Contrary to popular belief, employees who work from home tend to be more productive than those being physically monitored all day at the office. Offering flexible schedules means employees save time on commuting and can rather spend that time working.
Onboarding remote IT employees can involve a learning curve. Here are some tips for managing remote employees:
1. Set the Protocol.
For these tools to be effective, you’ll need to set some ground rules involving situational protocol. Incoming remote employees will need answers to the following questions:
What Does the Chain of Command Look Like?
You will need to arrange a proper definition of company hierarchy and departmental organization. Will your remote employees have one single point of contact, such as a general project manager, or many?
How Will Remote Employees Be Held Accountable?
There are many telecommunications tools and platforms available for task and time management accountability. For example, certain platforms aimed at productivity can take screenshots at random intervals of time over the course of a day to ensure employees are indeed working when they say they are. Other teams may use calendars to post due dates for progress on specific tasks or projects.
What Are the Consequences for Ineffective Task or Time Management?
Is there an initiation or training period that allows some leniency in the schedule? How will you manage productivity without your employees seeing you as the “bad guy?”
Utilizing software that marks the status of specific tasks or projects with due dates allows employees to take ownership and correct their own productivity issues.
Which Telecommunications Tools Will be Used for What?
Some platforms are aimed at direct message-style communication and collaboration; others focus on task management and deliverables. It’s important to consider the utilization of compatible tools and platforms that can work together.
2. Customize a Remote Employee Onboarding Process
Every new employee deserves a comprehensive orientation or onboarding program. Remote employees are no exception to this rule.
This process should include:
- Outline of Protocols.
- Cover Job Responsibilities and Expectations
- Introduce Relevant Company Personnel
- Provide Specialized Training on Tools
- Issue a List of Available Resources
3. Monitor Task Management Through Telecommunications Tools
When an employee isn’t in the building, it can be too easy to forget about keeping tabs on him or her. Luckily, there are many telecommunications tools and platforms available, including email, phone, and video conferencing as well as direct messaging and task management software to help manage communication.
Utilize Checklists and Milestones. Setting up checklists and milestones on project management platforms is a great way to hold employees accountable for their productivity. These tools can also be a great way for you and other employees to work as a cohesive team and stay on the same page.
Take Advantage of Timetables and Due Dates. These productivity-increasing tools are built into most task management platforms. These deadlines allow an employee to see when they are submitting a project or completing a task after the deadline. Deadlines also allow them to adjust their productivity level accordingly.
Require Project Status Updates. Project statuses serve as benchmarks for due dates that can be automatically marked as “overdue” or “late.”
Using your project management platform as a self-correcting tool for your employees allows you to remain in a leadership role without resorting to micromanagement. This makes employees feel like they can come to you when issues arise and also helps increase feelings of loyalty and belonging in a remote setting, which ultimately decreases employee turnover.
Emerge As a Top Tech Company
As the trend of hiring remote IT specialists grows, lead the pack in your industry by offering competitive remote IT positions while reducing workplace expenses. This cost-effective solution to making your company a more desirable place to work could be the difference between emerging as an industry leader and being left behind.
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