Though it may seem like an emerging trend, working from home isn’t a brand new idea. As early as the 1970s, remote work has been the promise of the future. With a Gallup poll finding that 43% of American workers did some or all of their work from home in 2016, it seems the future is now.
And why not? The advantages of remote work are numerous: no commute, no dress code, no office distractions, and higher overall job satisfaction. The benefits of working from home aren’t exclusive to the remote workers, either. Employers see increased productivity, retention, and savings from employees who do some or all of their work from home. But in order for both employee and employer to reap these benefits, you need to know how to effectively manage your remote workforce.
1. Set Expectations
It’s important to set clear and reasonable expectations with any employee, and your remote workers are no exception. Just because you might not see an employee every day doesn’t mean they should be flying blind in terms of what’s expected of them and their work. Be sure to outline what you’re looking for in terms of quality, timeline, and style for every project. These kinds of clear guidelines are for everyone’s benefits. It means your employees can avoid frustration and you can get exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Encourage Communication
An important part of setting expectations is open and clear communication. Do your best to remain connected and available to your remote workers. Be consistent with the frequency and channels you use to interact as well. Luckily, technology is in your favor. Make use of smartphones, instant messaging, video calls, and virtual meetings to stay connected with employees outside of the office.
Communication should not be limited to just you and your employee either. It’s also vital for your remote workers to feel connected with the rest of your team. Collaboration is important for productivity, and it also keeps your employees engaged. Don’t forget to invite them to company events and encourage your staff to get to know your remote workers as well. Make the effort to get to know these employees as people, just as you would with your workers who are in the office more regularly.
3. Make Time for Consistent Check-Ins
It can be tempting to think frequently checking in on your remote workers is the best way to ensure they’re being productive and meeting expectations. However, there’s no magic number for how often you should be meeting face to face or reviewing their work. Not to mention that constantly monitoring your remote workers can be time-consuming and stressful for both parties. Instead, regularly scheduled, predictable check-ins give you a chance to communicate, to make sure projects are on the right track, and to build trust between you and your employees.
4. Don’t Ignore Them
As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” In your efforts to manage your remote workers, take care this concept doesn’t apply to them. It can be dangerously easy to forget or ignore the people you don’t see every day. However, the best way to ensure the same standard of work from all your employees is to ensure the same treatment for everyone. Do your best to prioritize the needs of all your workers fairly and equally. Like we said above, there’s no need to hover or micromanage, but be sure your remote employees don’t feel ostracized or ignored.
5. Don’t Worry
Finally, the biggest “don’t” for managing a remote workforce is worry. Remote work is a trend that’s not going away—and that’s actually great for employers! Evidence suggests working-from-home can make for happier, more productive workers. This also improves employee retention and lowers the overhead costs associated with in-office employees. It can be intimidating to take the plunge and embrace the concept of remote work. But if you know how to handle the situation, the benefits will speak for themselves.