According to FlexJobs, the U.S. remote workforce is made up of 3.9 million employees who work from home a minimum of half the work week. If that isn’t enough of an indicator of this growing trend, job site Indeed noted that jobseekers searching for “remote/work from home” as a keyword increased by 385 percent in 2017. While the work-from-anywhere movement is notable and significant, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Employers need to equip themselves with as much information as possible in order to properly manage and support their remote workforce and keep their teams on track.
Here are some tips for prioritizing the needs of your remote workforce:
Provide Appropriate Technology Training
Remote employees are heavily reliant on the technology at their disposal. In order to ensure they are as productive and efficient as possible, it’s critical to provide training opportunities for hardware, software and processes. By onboarding them completely to the practices of your organization, they’re less likely to turn to shadow IT practices.
Instill a Culture of Open and Honest Communication
Creating a culture that feels inclusive to everyone regardless of location is challenging, but a good first step is to instill a culture that values open and honest communication. Schedule all-hands meetings that allow everyone the opportunity to have their voice heard, or promote the use of video conferencing to guarantee that face-to-face communication still takes place on a regular basis.
When employees are remote, there are dramatically fewer chances for random and organic conversations, which can lead to feelings of isolation and alienation. Avoid this by creating opportunities for casual chit-chat or connection. This could be as simple as starting every Monday morning with an IM, “Do anything fun this weekend?”
Set Clear Guidelines and Expectations
One way to avoid confusion and unease is to provide clear guidelines and expectations from the beginning. Remote employees are notorious for having odd work hours, so be sure to establish what’s appropriate for your particular organization. This type of clarity will also bode well for the open and honest communication culture you’re aiming to establish.
Track Output, Not Activities
With employees who work outside the office, it’s impossible to truly know what they’re doing every moment of the day. Rather than obsess over the individual activities, track progress based on completed tasks and output. Many employees seek out remote employment for the flexibility it provides; respect this and focus on the quality and progress of their actual work, and they’ll feel better understood and valued.
Prioritize Your Digital Workplace
UC technology offers a space for remote employees to interact with their fellow team members and keep a record of their progress and performance. Most UC platforms allow users to open tasks, provide notes and mark completion. This presents an opportunity to work collaboratively with team members as task ownership is passed from colleague to colleague. This type of collaborative environment establishes a digital workplace that mimics that of a brick-and-mortar office space.