More and more often, employees are working remotely. Whether it’s a few miles from a central office, or across the country (or world), its imperative that communication stays ongoing and productivity stays high.
With remote options on the rise, people are becoming used to working from home and it just takes a little ingenuity to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Some stats from The New York Times:
- The typical remote worker is in their late 40’s, a college graduate and earns on average $58,000 annually.
- The company the typical worker works for has at least 100 employees.
- Men and women both work from home, as do those with children and without.
- One estimate shows telecommuting has risen 79% from 2004.
- Numbers show that about 2.6% of American workers work remotely and that is about 3.2 million people. The numbers are greater for those who work at least some of the time at home.
- Huge amounts of money can be saved with people working remotely, whether through sick days (their own or their kids), snow/weather days and other circumstances.
As the following article delves into, what are some ways of overcoming communication challenges when managing a remote workforce?
- Clear communication channels. This means have clear ways for employees to reach one another and for management to be able to reach them. Things like video chat (Skype or Google Hangout) and instant messaging are good methods of communication. Keep phone and call in numbers accessible and current.
- Provide the needed technology. Provide laptops, phones and anything else employees need to work successfully from home and stay in the network with everyone else.
- Set up a mobile messaging platform. Put in place specific hours where everyone is available and easy to contact.
- Have weekly calls/chats where everyone is on.
- Use collaboration programs and cloud based storage.
- Employees can keep work logs describing their plans and actions.
- Management needs to set clear expectations. If employees should be working certain hours and not skipping out to the gym or the mall, let them know.
- If possible, have remote employees come to the office every so often. If they are local, it’s easy enough, but even if they are out of town, they can come in every few weeks or even months to feel connected.
Open Communication is Key
It’s important to keep communication open with remote employees and know what they are doing with their time, but it’s also important to show trust. If they are good enough to hire and entrust with a position, management should trust they are doing what they need to.
Numbers show a lot, and if productivity is up and where it should be, it really shouldn’t matter when they are working as long as they are accessible and productive.
People enjoy working remotely; it seems to benefit everyone. It can save not only the cost of missed days of work, but also the cost of renting space and other aspects of running an office. Time is saved in commutes and other tasks can be done throughout the day at convenient times without going to and from the office.
Sure, communication can be a challenge, but the benefits are greater than the downside.
By keeping open communication channels, clear expectations and trust, companies can thrive with remote workers.
About the Author: Heather Legg is a writer who focuses on small business, social media and health topics.