Replacing a physical office with remote workers allows you to save money. It also comes with unique challenges, ranging from how to effectively manage remote team members to how to ensure that the day-to-day business of the company is taken care of. In a 2016 Gallop study, 43 percent of Americans said they at least occasionally work remotely. The key to successfully directing a remote workforce lies in organization and communication.
Have Clear, Detailed Requirements
From onboarding to day-to-day tasks, it’s important that employees clearly understand what is expected of them. In a remote workforce, this becomes even more critical because the workers must be motivated to keep themselves on task. If they are uncertain about what they should be doing, what the next step of a project is, or how long a task should take, that ambivalence slows them down and decreases their productivity.
Their time is your money. Supply clear training and have instruction manuals available. Use software that provides clear task lists and detailed time sheets so that you and your employees can see how productive and efficient they are.
Use Cloud Computing
One of the major challenges of running a business without a physical office is hosting and storing the data generated, as well as how to protect it. Cloud hosting is increasingly common as an option. The range of services available accommodates needs that range from simple web hosting to more complex operating systems and apps. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) addresses the need for stable and protected computing infrastructure within a company without purchasing and maintaining dedicated servers.
Image via Flickr by Garfield Anderssen
Keep the lines of communication open between employees and their managers. Make sure workers feel like their supervisor is available to them. When possible, make regular meetings by voice or video a part of the daily or weekly routine. This keeps employees from feeling like they are working in a bubble and keeps them on task. Group chats for team projects provide a platform for quick questions and check-ins that are less formal than an email. Comment sections on a team’s dashboard allow members to leave pertinent notes about projects or clients that help the next person to focus their efforts and be aware of any red flags.
When employees are gathered in a traditional office, it’s easy to monitor what they are up to and how focused they are. In a virtual office, this can be more difficult. Employers may be left feeling uneasy about how focused and productive their workers are. Luckily, there is a host of software available, offering varying degrees of oversight, that provides both monitoring and analysis of employees’ work patterns. Depending on the needs of your company, choose from software that ranges from keystroke monitoring, to login software, to analytics options to ensure that your team is working with the focus expected of them.
Telecommuting continues to grow as an important part of the work ecosystem. Fostering a supportive and regulated environment for telecommuters helps companies retain important and highly trained personnel. With strong communication and supportive technological infrastructure, remote workers add great value to businesses.