The future is remote, and the future is now. Today, businesses can make use of cost effective answering services from providers like www.virtualheadquarters.com from their virtual headquarters, with the actual business location can be in a totally different place – e.g. at home.
But the trend doesn’t stop there. More and more companies are now shifting to a remote working model or at least some permutation of it. Unthinkable that most of us could do our jobs from home a few years ago, the coronavirus pandemic has kick-started the remote working party. Straight into high gear!
A lot of businesses were skeptical of this seismic shift in conducting business. But, almost all studies have shown how not only is remote working more convenient for the employees, but it also works better for the employers and business owners.
What’s important now is on how to well-manage your team of remote workers and digital nomads geographically dispersed worldwide.
Benefits of Having your Employees Work Remotely
1. Employee satisfaction
Most employees who shifted to a remote working model said they were happier with their jobs and their work. Most employees have also reported reduced stress during the workweek when compared to onsite work.
2. Saving money on overhead costs
As an employer or business owner, one of the biggest plus points of a remote working model is the money you save on overhead costs. You no longer need to pay rent for an office space that needs to have all basic utilities up and running. No stocking and restocking of the pantry. No making sure the office is clean and the bathrooms are working properly.
3. Spike in employee productivity
The first image that pops up in our mind when we think of remote working is someone snoozing with a laptop open in front of them. This stereotype couldn’t be more false. Most employees have reported an uptick in their productivity.
Perhaps it’s the time one saves on commuting or the ease one feels in the comfort of one’s home, most employers have noticed their staff work harder and smarter since working remotely.
4. Global talent within reach
Another important aspect of remote working is the ability to hire talent from around the world. This globalization of the hiring process is because with everyone working online, distance doesn’t matter. Nothing is stopping you from speaking with a marketing consultant from Finland who really understands your vision. The world truly is becoming a global village.
How to Manage Remote Workers
Now that we have seen the upside of having your employees work remotely, let us have a look at the most important thing you can do to manage them.
1. Work on that communication plan
One of the major hurdles businesses faced when shifting to remote working was establishing communication workflows. Both employees and managers were in the habit of just walking up to whoever they wanted (or saw on the work floor) with a question. Work from home disrupted that habit and resulted in initial unease among many employees.
How did the more efficient workplaces manage that? By having a detailed communication plan in place. What a communication plan does is it provides employees with clear flowcharts on whom to contact for what issue. Additionally, access to software such as Trello and Slack can help employees retain their sense of being a part of a team, even while working remotely. Several such software can be used to keep a check on work progress and even enforce deadlines.
2. Spell out expectations clearly
Let your employees know what you expect from them in clear-cut terms. Setting vague expectations can result in compatibility issues in the future. Employees need to know the number of hours they are expected to be online, what the protocol for going on a break is and so on. Give priority to one-on-one catch-ups and team meetings.
Employee morale is boosted when they feel like they are a part of a team and their views are being listened to. Once you communicate your expectations to the employees, listen to what they have to say as well. What the employee expects of you is also important.
3. Give data security the necessary importance
A big challenge that was faced by businesses dealing with sensitive information when shifting to the work-from-home model was data security. Give your business IT team the space they need to work efficiently and also keep any legal guidelines viz-a-viz sensitive data in mind.
You will need to support your IT team in ensuring that anti-virus software is up-to-date and firewalls are updated on all your employees’ personal computers. This is a non-negotiable aspect of working from home or working remotely.
Just like a communication plan, it is perhaps a good idea to create a data security plan and have it distributed among employees. This way, you can make sure you and your employees are on the same page regarding the importance of protecting sensitive data.
4. Give your employees timely updates
The best way to keep your employees in the loop and try and replicate the positives of an office space while working remotely is to give them updates. These updates could range from how the company is doing financially to whether there are any plans of returning to the office. Getting updates from upper management helps employees feel like a part of something bigger.
Working remotely may be a lot of things, but it is also lonely. In most cases, it’s one person, in one room, connected to a PC and the internet. That’s it.
Understand things from the point of view of the employee and give them timely updates on the company’s goings-on.
5. Help employees achieve work-life balance
Work from home or working remotely has many positives. But it has its fair share of downsides too. The biggest among these is the failure of employees to find a work-life balance. As we know, our lives cannot be completely about work. Nor can it be about just chilling and not giving any priority to your work tasks.
What is crucial is finding a work-life balance to not get burnt out.
As an employer, you need to understand that with work from home, the demarcation between where a person works, and where he/she goes to unwind has blurred. This can often result in one gaining precedence over the other. This isn’t healthy for your employees, or for the organization in the long run.
Help your employees find the much-needed sweet spot between work and life. Ensure that no calls are scheduled after work hours so as to not encroach upon an employee’s personal time. Also, ensure everyone is up and about when the workday starts. Balance is everything.