It seems like everything can be done remotely these days. Manage your finances on the train to work. Catch up via webcam with your grandma and her new puppy halfway across the world. Impulse-purchase a pair of cowboy boots at 2 AM and send them back a week later without needing to leave your house. With this progression towards mobility in our personal lives, it seems only natural that mobility would enter into our professional life too.
While there are many benefits of having self-starting employees – reduced office expenses, increased productivity, and lower turnover – there are as many obstacles to overcome. Employers worry about productivity rates dropping or reduced security; employees worry about feeling isolated or out of the loop.
Staying motivated as a remote worker is a two-way street. While it’s up to the employee to establish and implement their own system to work effectively, the employer must also make an effort to manage and include these employees in daily business.
Build and Maintain Trust
This begins with simple introductions. It sounds silly, but it’s important that everyone on your team knows one another, no matter where they are working. Sit down with your remote workers – preferably on a videoconferencing call or similar – and get to know each other. If your telecommuters are only interacting with names on an email or voices over a phone, it might enhance their feelings of separation.
Part of this mutual trust is the basic fact that you expect them to do their work, and they expect you to do yours. Treat them like you would any other employee: let them know when they’ve done a great job, highlight areas where they need improvement, and include them in the email of the funny cat video that you’ve just sent around to the rest of the office.
Meet Consistently for Regular Updates
This rule is absolutely essential when it comes to effectively managing your telecommuters. Depending on how remote your workers are, especially if they are on a different time zone, having a set meeting time is vital. It’s up to you how often you want these meetings to occur – weekly, fortnightly, monthly – but you need to have a system in place to track their progress and get their input on projects. A common complaint among remote workers is that their lack of visibility restricts their input into company success, so do what you can to ‘see’ them and let them know they are being ‘seen.’
To get the most out of these meetings, make sure that your remote workers can get all the information that ‘in-house’ employees can. They should be able to access and update documents, calendars, and any other team resources – this will increase productivity and make them feel included.
Remote Working is Not the Exception
The key to introducing a telecommuting scheme to your workplace is to treat it like normal. Don’t single out your mobile workers by revolving the work day around their needs, as this might breed resentment in your in-office staff. Go one step further: level out the playing field and open up the opportunity to your other employees.
Having remote workers can seem like a rather intimidating prospect, but implemented correctly, you could end up with a top-notch team for years to come.
About the Author:
Gemma Falconer is a Senior Campaign Specialist for Citrix and GoToMeeting. She has been part of the Demand Generation team for the past five years, looking after anything from webinars to content creation. In her spare time she enjoys playing volleyball, trying to learn Portuguese and eating cake – lots of cake. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter @GemmaFalconer