Remote work, which includes multi-location teams and a telecommuting workforce, is on the rise. According to the website WBUR.org, “68% of millennials now say they expect a work from home option to be part of the package before they'll sign with a company.” In a GetVoip survey, 53% of tech professionals indicated that they would be willing to take a pay cut to be allowed to telecommute.
There are many positives to having employees work remotely. Companies have a more expansive talent pool if they are not confined to a limited geographic area, and can save money on real estate, absenteeism and turnover. Employees and contractors gain flexibility and save time and money with reduced commuting, food costs, childcare, and clothing.
On the other hand, managing a remote workforce can present certain challenges. Here are five common concerns and how to address them.
Monitoring Employee Performance
By having a weekly meeting with each remote employee to create a set of specific deliverables or key performance indicators (KPIs), you have provided direction and have an objective way of measuring productivity. In this weekly meeting you are able to provide immediate feedback and correct misunderstandings and unsatisfactory results.
Tracking Work Hours and Overtime
Anytime there is a discussion of hours worked and overtime it is related to the FLSA status of the employee based on their position. For exempt employees this is not an issue. The important thing from a management standpoint is whether or not the employee is available and bringing the value of their pay to the position. If the answer is “yes,” stop worrying about hours worked.
For non-exempt employees, monitoring for overtime is a real concern. Non-exempt employees must feel free to share that they need to work overtime to complete an assignment, and they must be paid appropriately for that time. Having a solid policy around overtime and a time tracking system can provide the protection you need. A simple excel sheet can work for tracking time or you can use time-tracking software.
Collaborating and Communicating
Effective communication and collaborative methods are key to a successful remote working arrangement and experience. Don’t rely on email as your primary method of communication. Scheduled video conferences where everyone can see each other is an important way to keep a human face to the communication. Text message apps and Slack are good for quick questions and to share information informally. Keep in mind, text and emails are often read with a tone that is not intended and can create miscommunication. So whenever possible video chat or pick-up the phone.
Bonding Among Coworkers and with Management
Meeting and bonding remotely is no longer uncommon. People meet and form strong relationships virtually all the time. As the manager, you will want to schedule at least weekly one-on-one time with your remote employees. Don’t make that time strictly business. Spend some time just chatting. Get to know your employees and what is important to them. By doing this, you build your relationship and you can work with them to meet their goals as well as yours.
Supporting I.T. Security and Remote Technology
Cybersecurity is a concern and never guaranteed, but a good tech team can make a big difference. Develop strong I.T. and computer protocol and policies on downloading, uploading, and sharing information. It is best to use a platform for sharing information without having to use email, text or anything that could have information accidentally ending up in the wrong hands.
Provide designated tech support for your remote workers. If you don’t have an in-house resource, you can outsource your employee tech support.
By effectively addressing these five concerns, you can enjoy the numerous benefits of having happy, engaged, and long-term remote employees.
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