Telecommuting or remote work is the result of a boost in technology that allowed for new growth in the business setting. Not only has it been proven to be cost-effective and boosts employee performance, but it is deemed to be the norm in the future. Companies like insurance company Aetna and American Express have reported savings of $10M to $75M from their remote workers. With the right management of a remote workforce, you can create an effective remote environment for your business. We can learn a thing or two from Delegate who chose to build their company on 100% virtual operation for 8 years now.
Communication is Essential
As a manager of a remote workforce, you need to be a proactive communicator. Your team should remain connected with their teammates and your company using various types of technology. You can have face-to-face meetings with Skype and Zoom and use tools like Google groups, Asana and Slack to allow for quick communication among team members.
Focus On Your Goals
Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Employ remote workers that are independent, self-disciplined, self-starters and goals-focused. Provide clear instructions about how you need the end results to be. If your team is working towards a shared goal, make sure you have a hub or online tool to track the team’s overall progress and to provide encouragement and assistance.
Focus On Getting Results
Don’t base the value of your remote workers on their time clocking in and out. Set up a working schedule but focus on the results that they are able to produce. As the employer, your job is to set them up for success with clear expectations about their work, your goals and the results you need from them. As their leaders, you need to evolve your mindset to find ways you can track employee productivity and engagement.
Create an Effective System and Processes
Your remote staff should be able to document recurring parts of their work, so there is less room for questions and errors. Your team can document repeating steps and notes on what they do with certain types of clients for your business. This will allow your team to step in and cover for another in an instant if the need arises. Effectively noting processes will reduce your management oversight time and help you determine other parts of your business that can be outsourced to a remote workforce.
Create Realistic Structures for Accountability
You can create a video training program that will introduce your remote staff to their roles. You can also add important contact persons and staff members they need to coordinate with.
Bonus: Helpful Tools for Managing a Remote Workforce
Trello- This tool helps managers and remote workers get organized. It is a visual project organization tool with drag and drop cards so you can manage and create your own workflow and be notified when a task is near its due. You can also sync it with multiple devices and share it with members of your team.
Global Workplace Analytics Workplace Savings Calculator- You can key in the number of employees you have and assess your costs in terms of productivity, turnover, and absenteeism.
Mural.ly- This creative tool can be used for idea mapping and remote brainstorming. The tool promotes creative thinking, interdisciplinary collaborations, idea sharing, and organization.
Basecamp- This project management tool provides a great collaboration space for your remote team. This helps you organize your tasks, files and plan your projects.
HipChat- This hosted group chat and video chat is designed for real-time collaboration, file sharing and screen sharing with your remote team.
Slack- A versatile team communication system, Slack integrates with Dropbox and Google Drive. It also has mobile and email features, autocomplete, context search and configurable notifications.
Flexibility is essential to managing remote employees. Each team is unique so you should be able to adjust your strategies and keep communication, goals, and results at the core of your remote workforce. Equip yourself with the right knowledge and tools so you can effectively manage your out-of-the-office team.