The full effect of the current COVID-19 pandemic on everyday life is still unknown but one thing we know for sure is that the “new normal” is ushering in a “work from home revolution” that many companies are now implementing indefinitely.
According to Global Workplace Analytics, offering remote jobs is an effective way to have productive workers. With half of the workforce having telecommuting roles in their jobs, about 80 – 90% of workers want to work remotely, even for just part-time.
Remote work can save a business time and money.
To keep up with market demand, businesses need to seriously consider establishing a permanent remote workforce. Remote work does not only increase productivity – it can cut both the worker and the organization some costs, such as transportation, office rent, and equipment maintenance.
Workers do not need to waste time on their daily commute. Additionally, since workers are free to make up their own schedule, they need not be wary of the regular 8am – 5pm daily schedule.
Managers might have a hard time navigating themselves in this new environment and find themselves uneasy with the tasks at hand. Trusting employees with the remote work process is one thing and training them is also another. But working remotely is now the future, so here are some tips to effectively manage a remote workforce.
1. Set clear goals and expectations.
Managers need to communicate the team’s goals for a certain time period, and they can do this through the communication apps and tools that all the team members are using. It is important to have clear expectations with people who work online. Everybody needs to be prepared to do their part – informing them of their tasks and showing them examples of the level of work they need to do is best for maximizing productivity.
2. Catch up with employees regularly.
Managers must remember to meet with their remote workers and check-up with their state on a regular basis. Unlike workers who work in the office who they see daily, remote people do not have the same access they do to the office and its routines. Managers should respond quickly to any inquiries remote workers may have. Take advantage of video conferencing software to have a more engaging feel.
It is also helpful to use multiple channels to engage and communicate with remote workers. Schedule face-to-face meetings regularly, and this can be accompanied by regular training and coaching. This could remind remote workers that they are part of the organization and that they are contributing to its long-term goals.
3. Maintain trust and inclusivity within the team.
One reason why organizations are wary of creating a remote workforce is that they don’t think they can trust a remote team to be as productive as a local one. To ease this worry, guidelines should be set up for remote workers. Examples could be setting up response times for emails or messages, and restricting communication during some days or hours to make sure that no one is overworking.
Like an office work environment, inclusivity should also be promoted in a remote work situation. Sometimes it is easy to forget remote workers because they are not seen daily, so there should be regular virtual meetings and staff partnerships to prevent this. Another suggestion would be to assign a remote staff to a local one for regular communication. This should also be checked regularly to see if it is successful.
4. Have reliable tools.
Having reliable tools for collaborative work is vital in making remote work possible. Remote workers should first have basic tools such as applications for communication, file transfer, and file storage. These tools should also be secure so they cannot be accessed by unauthorized users during remote work. Remote workers should also be trained to use these tools and know where to ask questions when they have problems regarding them.
Hire a service provider.
For managers and in-house IT departments to be relieved from worrying about this, organizations should hire third-party service providers. Remote work comes with higher risk of being exposed to cybersecurity threats such as data breaches. With the need for additional cybersecurity, a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) can deploy the right applications and provide 24/7 security for remote workers.
5. Look towards accomplishing goals.
It is important to keep in mind that a remote workforce is goals-based and not activity-based. This is a mindset that helps reduce worry and manage expectations for a team. With clear expectations, each meeting or task will be done with intention, which gives all members a chance to engage and give a variety of input. If goals are not met, then that is when it should be analyzed to see what process or methods could be done better.
6. Strategize communication.
A communication strategy can help the team reach a steady level of productivity that remote work needs. There should be weekly formal reports and meetings, and guidelines about daily needs. Some employees work better with to-do lists while some prefer a steady trickle of tasks.
7. Connect with the team.
The current workforce is now interested in learning new skills and advancements in their fields instead of relying on stability. Managers should take personal interests in their team’s learning and goals. These personal goals should connect well with the company’s interest, which gives both employees and the company a healthy productivity boost. Engaging with the team in this way ensures quality performance.
8. Establish bonds through technology.
Being a mobile workforce does not mean that it is not possible to have a tight-knit community. Building one is an important part of developing an engaged workforce. Technology can be dedicated to celebrating birthdays, life achievements, and company milestones.
Giving empathy and discussing shared goals and beliefs can establish bonds and show support in achieving common goals. Collaboration tools, shared documents, spreadsheets, video calls, chats, and texts are all part of investments in a relationship between company and employee that can help them check up on each other.
Cultivating a healthy company culture should still be a part of remote work, as these connections can inspire the team and boost their productivity.