As technology advances, more employees are working remotely. While both employee and employer can benefit from this arrangement, managing these employees can prove a challenge.
Many employers are reluctant to allow employees to work remotely, but an increasing number are buying into the concept of a workforce that is 100 percent remote and reaping the benefits of doing so, including:
- The elimination of commuting time – giving employees more time to work;
- A decrease in expenses, as employers don’t have to provide physical space, and in some cases, don’t provide equipment;
- Increased access to talent who may benefit your business but is unwilling to relocate to your physical location;
- An increase in worker satisfaction; and
- Increased productivity and profits.
As a leader, how can you keep remote employees engaged and hold them accountable? To ensure you are getting the most out of your remote workforce, take these steps:
- Set expectations. When people are working remotely, they must have a clear understanding of what you expect regarding performance and workflow. Are they expected to work regular workday hours or do they have flexibility? These days, managers are judging remote workers not by the hours they work but by the results they deliver. Create accountability, and make sure that employees are meeting expectations.
- Keep in touch. When everyone is sharing the same office space, it’s easy to share knowledge and integrate employees into the company’s culture. But those who work remotely – especially those who exclusively work remotely – can feel like they’re operating in a silo. It is critical to communicate the goals they are working toward, and how their work contributes to the overall success of the company. Regular communication can help ensure employees remain engaged, and team meetings that require a physical presence can give people a chance to interact with each other, share information and ideas and develop camaraderie with co-workers.
- Build rapport. Your workers are not just employees; they are people with busy lives. Just as with an in-person workforce, taking the time to get to know them as individuals will allow you to better manage them based on a more personal level.
- Invest in technology. Technology can give your employees instant access to information, wherever they work. It also allows employees to interact and build relationships, even if they are located a continent apart.
- Create an HR infrastructure. Those working remotely need a way to enroll in benefits, access information and be able to communicate with other employees.
- Regularly check on progress. Reward success and remember that remote workers, just like those who work in an office, are looking to advance. It’s easy for remote workers to become invisible. Don’t get into the rut of just assuming they’re getting it done and are satisfied in their current situation.
Properly managed, a remote workforce can be a boon to your business. But before you begin, make sure you have the right infrastructure in place and that you are serving your employees, as well as your company.