What is remote work?
Remote work is any type of work that is performed outside of the traditional working environment. It’s also known as teleworking, telecommuting or working from home. Instead of commuting to the office each day, you or your employees can complete their work from home. It also means that employees can be anywhere in the world, not just within a commutable distance to your business.
Remote work is typically completed digitally with employees using computers to complete the work they’d normally do in the office. This can mean using remote access software to connect directly to their work computer, connecting to an online work portal or taking files and documents home with them.
What are the benefits of remote employees?
There are many benefits to having remote employees in your business. Here are a few to consider:
It’s been widely reported that remote employees are more productive. This is thought to be because they have more flexibility during the working day and more time to spend on their work without distractions. They also save time on their commute.
Employees who work from home are often happier and more satisfied with their jobs. Happier employees are usually more productive and likely to stay with the company. This increases business productivity and employee retention, which in turn reduces costs.
Reduced business costs
By having remote employees, you can save money on office space. This includes costs such as cleaning, maintenance and utilities. By having a remote workforce, you can reduce the size of your office or even choose not to have a physical workspace and run an entirely remote business instead.
Access to a larger talent pool
By utilising remote employees, you give yourself access to a global talent pool. The people you hire are no longer limited to being within a realistic commutable distance from your business. Instead, you can hire people from anywhere in the world.
11 tips to effectively manage remote employees
Here are 11 tips that you can use to manage your business’s remote employees more effectively:
1. Set up effective communication tools
One of the biggest challenges of managing remote employees is communication. In a regular office, you can easily communicate in person if you need something. Remote communication is different and requires you to have multiple communication tools. To make the most of your available telecommunication tools, be sure you have a way to speak to people directly with your voice (such as over the phone), a video conferencing tool and messaging software. There are many new communication tools for businesses that integrate messaging, voice and video chat while also allowing you to make schedules and send files.
2. Set clear expectations
When managing people in person, there are generally well-known expectations for employees, such as showing up to work on time and using appropriate language in the workplace. In remote communication, these guidelines aren’t as clear. To get the most out of your remote employees, make sure you set clear expectations for their working hours. That may involve being available to answer messages during their working hours, using professional language in messages, minimising background noise during conference calls and more.
3. Schedule regular meetings
Since you can’t bump into a remote employee and casually check in with them, you need to schedule regular meetings to keep track of their progress. This can help you get a better idea of how they’re performing in the workplace and make it easier to measure their progress regularly. It can also give your employees a chance to ask you any questions or discuss any concerns they may have. Depending on your needs, the regular meetings you have might be short daily chats, longer weekly meetings or extensive monthly check-ins.
4. Build a community with your employees
When hiring remote employees, it’s important to maintain a sense of community and foster a sense of friendliness with your team to ensure they feel connected to the rest of the company. You can achieve this with group chat channels and by spending time during meetings to ask how people are feeling. You should also promote open communication between remote employees so that they can offer each other support to overcome any challenges they may be facing.
5. Create an open-door policy
It can be challenging to have unplanned conversations when working with remote employees, especially when there are different time zones involved. They may feel like they can’t contact you outside of scheduled meetings, which means they may not communicate their issues promptly. By creating an open-door policy with your employees, you can let them know that you’re available for unscheduled conversations about work. This also involves responding promptly to messages and using software tools, such as out-of-office messages, to let employees know your availability at any given time.
6. Avoid micromanaging
One of the most important aspects of remote work that remote employees value is the autonomy it provides. Working remotely gives them the opportunity to approach their work in a way that suits them. When you’re not in the same office as your employees and you can’t see them working, it can be easy to assume that they’re not actively working. However, if you’re constantly checking on your employees’ progress, it may affect their productivity.
Instead, use regular, scheduled progress checks to keep up with your remote employees’ work. If you use any work tracking tools for your remote employees, make sure they’re unobtrusive and easy to use to ensure employees can keep working without feeling too closely monitored.
7. Equip your remote employees
It’s important that your remote employees have all of the tools they need to do their job. This means both in their home office arrangement and with the software they’re using. It can be beneficial to provide your remote employees with home office equipment so that they can work more productively, stay engaged with their tasks and maintain a high level of quality. You can also consider providing your remote employees with a home office equipment budget.
Additionally, it’s important to provide your remote employees with the right software and tools to do their job. Be careful to use the right type of software licences, especially if you’re expecting remote workers to use their own hardware.
8. Trust your employees
It can be challenging to trust that your employees are using their time effectively when you can’t see what they’re doing. However, it’s important that you allow yourself to be more trusting of your remote employees. This can show employees that you have faith in their abilities, and they’ll appreciate your trust and support. Also, by using appropriate performance metrics, you’ll be able to tell if a remote employee isn’t working properly during performance meetings.
9. Be open to new approaches
Remote working is completely different from traditional office arrangements. There might be new or better ways to work remotely that you’ve never heard of before. Aim to be open to new ways of remote working, such as software, schedules and tools that could assist your team. Listen to your remote employees’ suggestions, and give them careful consideration. There might be a better way to do things that you haven’t considered.
10. Be inclusive
If you have a mixture of traditional office-based employees and remote employees, it’s important to make an active effort to include your remote employees in your company culture to ensure they feel cared for and involved. Emphasise your values to remote employees just as you would a traditional employee. This can help them to better integrate into your workforce and feel more included.
11. Don’t ignore time zones
In a traditional office arrangement, it’s easy to organise team meetings and other work events. However, remote employees can be anywhere in the world. Make sure you take into account the time zone your remote employees are in to ensure you aren’t scheduling meetings at 2 a.m. for an employee on the other side of the world. While there is always going to be some inconvenience involved with time zones, it’s still best to be considerate of others.