According to a recent study, three-quarters of UK employees favor flexible schedules such as remote working. In fact, 81 percent of women and 69 percent of men say flexible work options make a job more appealing.
But, while giving your workforce greater flexibility could attract the top talent and keep existing employees happy, it also comes with several challenges. For example, how can you be sure that members of staff are pulling their weight when they’re not under your watchful eye?
Here’s a guide to managing a remote workforce.
Keep communication as authentic as possible
In today’s digitally connected society, there are numerous communication channels at your disposal, from social media networks to cloud-based collaboration tools. But, by keeping interactions as authentic as possible, you’ll be able to maintain and possibly even strengthen relationships with remote workers. For example, GPS time clocks can play an important role in keeping communication as authentic as possible. When everyone is on the same page, it eliminates a lot of guesswork and misunderstanding. By being able to track employees’ whereabouts, GPS time clocks also give employers greater visibility into potential issues. For example, if an employee is consistently late for their shift, it may be indicative of a larger problem. Similarly, if an employee takes frequent breaks, it could be a sign that they are not getting enough work done. By having this data readily available, employers can have more honest conversations with their employees about attendance and productivity. In turn, this can help to create a more positive and productive workplace.
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“Video conferencing makes it easier to have interaction between remote workers,” says Maurice van Sabben, President, Nat Geo TV UK.
“Some people were skeptical at first, especially individuals in a commercial function. But now, everyone can see the benefits.”
Set clear expectations from the get-go
If you’re going to give your employees the freedom of remote working then it’s perfectly reasonable to set expectations concerning their work hours, availability, projects and deadlines, email response times, scheduled meetings, and chosen communication channels.
“Everyone has a different idea of what doing something “quickly” or “well” means,” says Ilean Harris, award-winning marketing coach and global entrepreneur.
“Whether showing examples of what you expect to be done, calendar sharing, etc., make sure you have clear expectations from those you work with online. The more prepared they are, the better they can serve.”
Maintain morale through a sense of community
High morale is a great way to boost productivity, but keeping it up can be difficult when managing remote teams. One option is instilling a sense of community through the technology at your disposal.
“Building community is important to developing an engaged remote workforce,” says TC Cooper, President, Upward Action LLC. “Use technology to create dedicated spaces for celebrating special days (e.g. birthdays), company milestones (e.g., months or years of service), as well as community recognition.
“Being intentional about creating community helps develop a corporate culture that inspires connection, which can result in increased productivity.”
Put faith and trust in your team
Seeing as 80 percent of employees consider flexible hours a job perk, with a further 36 percent likely to choose a work-from-home option over a pay rise, there’s no need to worry about remote employees fulfilling their responsibilities, so put your faith and trust in them.
“Sometimes, companies are not willing to embrace a remote workforce because there’s an uncertainty about whether or not the work will get completed at the same level as if they were in the office,” says LaKiesha Tomlin, Founder, Thriving Ambition.
“To combat this belief, set up work-from-home guidelines, such as emails must be responded to within 24 hours, use text for urgent matters, and no calls between certain hours to make sure teammates are not working around the clock.”