As tech evolves, allowing people to connect anywhere they are at anytime, working isn't anymore requiring people to be "physically present" at the office.
This has given a rise of remote working, where employees can work in places other than the office. It has become a commonplace in many countries around the world, especially at tech companies and jobs which require more internet and screen time than traditional paperwork.
When former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer went against remote working when she banned her employees from working at home in early 2013, she sparked a culture war over "how people work today". She said that working in the office is more collaborative.
She had a good point there, as considering Yahoo! as a giant at the time, and nothing can replace "physical presence". But when it comes to smaller companies, startups who just got some tractions, or those with more flexibility in working environment, remote working can actually boost productivity.
If done right that is.
Here are some of the ways:
This is the first and most difficult thing when it comes to having employees who work remotely.
How would you know that your employee sticks to deadline, and doesn't stab you from behind? After all, they're working out of your field of view, and they could do anything as they have access to your company's resources.
The solution is to give an example of trust, before asking one. When your employee came for an interview, you should see whether this person can be trusted. If you can trust this employee, give him/her the flexibility of work, in line with their job description. However, as an employer, you need to restrict some access, as some work may need your permission before initiated.
Here, communication is the key.
Despite having employees working remotely, you should maintain communication to the max. Observe what they do, and keep them under your supervision, but in a flexible way. If you have the time and budget, you may ask them to be physically present in the office or elsewhere once in a while, where you can strengthen this trust bond.
Such actions can also give your employees more encouragement, as they see themselves valuable for the company's long-term goal.
Transparent With Common Vision And Mission
For a company to find qualified and trusted remote employee is one thing. The next difficult thing, is to get them to know and understand your company's culture. These remote employees should stick to the rules and policy, despite they are not working side-by-side with their employers.
And this could be more of a problem if no solution is found.
To manage this issue, your company's goal should be reflected on each piece of communication you send to your remote employees. From emails to face-face video chat, as an employer you should clearly convey your business ideas.
Your employees should understand your company's vision and mission, and this is no exception.
Use The Right Tools
Since working remotely allows unmatched flexibility, as previously said, communication is the key.
Communication here involves conversations between employees. and also employers to employees and employees to employers. There is also information transaction, such as sending work-related documents and other works, emails, files and so forth. So here, the tools should be reliable.
The tools your company use, should also allow coordination of projects, the ability to organize discussions, and not just the ability to share files. This is to "sync" everyone into one page. Best of all, such tools should be easily accessed using a web browser, or app, allowing quick implementation wherever possible.
What you need to make sure is that, privacy and security should always be maintained.
Be A Good Listener
Again communication is the key. Since people in your company don't meet each other face-to-face physically on a daily basis, you as an employer need to listen to everything. From your employees opinions, feedback and so forth.
All but too often, remote workers feel isolated from their co-workers, even when they’re somewhat involved in digital business discussions. Communication issues can also cause remote employees to feel undervalued or that their contributions don’t actually matter to you or the company.
This is where you need to put your ears to the ground.
Try to maintain a healthy level of communication in your company, by preserving a positive culture. Make work fun, and make your employees your friends and not your underlings. To do this, you need to communicate trust and respect. Inquire about work and progress, but without micromanaging or over-communicating.
Casual talks in between work, for example, can help relieve the tension. And as an employer, you should be available no matter when your employees need you.
When necessary and possible, you may want to plan a routine face-to-face meeting where you can coach your employees, and get better insight regarding their successes and challenges. This will make your employees feel valuable.
Keeping Track On Accountability
Your employees have deadline to meet, and you should supervise them to make sure that things go well as intended. But when it comes to employees working remotely, things can be difficult.
In common, employers need track employee hours to ensuring that projects are completed on time. Failure in doing this, is the major pitfall that could derail your business, even when all the above and previously explained criteria is met.
To help you with this, you need to use the right tools to reduce the burden.
For example, there are tracking tools available, and should be a great way to ensure that employees are providing an honest day's work. There are also apps to take screenshot remotely, so you know that your employees are doing what they need to do during working hours.
This can also make it easier to manage payroll when paying dedicated remote specialists for hourly projects.
Whether or not you want to disclose these tracking apps to your employees, is up to you. Either way, you may require your employees to login into their work-dedicated account (where you have control), each time they work, and to forbid them to use that account for leisure purposes.
So again, clear communication is vital to ensure everything is completed properly. There are various other tools where you can assign dates to individual tasks, set and send reminders and other productivity apps. Using these, could help you eliminate the stress of managing remote employees to a minimum.
Remote working is flexible because employees aren't required to be physically present in an office on a daily basis. It allows them to work in other places, offering them a better peace of mind, where they can work at their own pace within the environment that are less restricted.
Tech has made this possible, and this is why remote jobs are huge demands.
As an employer, you could also benefit as this approach could significantly reduce overhead expenses. Furthermore, it can also result in increased job satisfaction and productivity, and even give you the opportunity to hire talented individuals who wouldn’t be available for an in-office job because of where they live.
Discipline is one, and the next is communication.
Many founders are reluctant to try this approach due to the challenges and trust issues. But if you can put side the obstacles. the approach can be a successful implementation, and create positive results to you, your company, and also your employees.