Remote working is taking great strides in popularity, with some figures suggesting that half of the US workforce is engaged in some form of telecommuting.
The advantages of taking a more flexible approach to staffing are numerous, from attracting high grade talent that is based outside your geographic area, to preventing burnout among existing valued employees.
But although there can be benefits to embracing off-site working, managing remote workers can present challenges for employers who want to ensure consistency across the board.
The very first step is to set remote workers up for success by making sure they won’t be let down by the technology that should be serving them well. Poor connections to shared servers, shaky video conference software or antiquated communication techniques will be a real barrier to seamless remote working. Make sure you’ve invested in whatever hardware or software will remove connectivity obstacles for your teams.
Even when remote-based employees have fast, efficient communication and document-sharing capabilities, some managers struggle to make the mental leap of faith when staff are out of their sight. Will they really be working, or will productivity nosedive if they are at home or in a coffee shop all day?
The best way to ensure that targets or objectives are met are to a) clearly define those targets or objectives to the remote employee, spelling out what that looks like in terms of daily, weekly or monthly deliverables and b) concentrate more on the outcomes than the working method. Does it really matter if your team member doesn’t respond to an email within five minutes, if goals are being reliably met?
If you’re concerned about losing engagement with a remote worker – a concern they may well share – devote some time at the beginning to setting up regular check-ins, whether that’s via video calls, voice conferences or in-person meetings. This will keep a real-time connection between teams and give you a chance to give and receive feedback at regular intervals, just as you should already be doing for your locally based staff
Suzanne Shaw is Principal Trainer and Director at Kent Trainers.
To find out more about how Kent Trainers can help your business, call Suzanne on 01732 808185 or visit www.kenttrainers.co.uk