How to Make Remote Working “Work” in Your Favor
Do you still remember when Yahoo desperately tried to ban employees from working at home?
I thought that was the end for remote employees! But as it turned out, the ban became a catalyst that inspired even more employees to work at home.
Here are some facts:
1. Last 2010, Microsoft’s U.S. Remote Working Research showed that 62 percent of the participants believed that they could do their jobs at home or other remote locations;
2. Our good friends at Telework Research Network provided these interesting statistics for us:
- 20 to 30 million Americans are currently working at home for at least one day per week
- 15 to 20 million consider themselves as mobile workers. They work away from home or their offices for at least 10 hours a week, using every online connection they can find
- 10 to 15 million own and run their businesses at home
- 15 to 20 million are working on their part-time jobs at home
- About 3 million are remote full-time workers.
Our list can go on and on.
As you can see, these numbers tell us one only thing — remote working is one of the key trends of the 21st century. Why not? Right?
According to studies, working remotely has a lot of benefits, not only to the employee and his or her employer(s) but also to the environment.
For instance, studies conducted by American Electronics Association estimates that approximately 1.35 billions of gasoline could be saved every year when every US worker would work at home for 1.6 days a week!
Remote working also significantly reduces the number of commuters on the road, drastically lowering air pollution and traffic congestion.
1.35 billions of gasoline could be saved when every US worker would work at home for couple days a week
Surveys have also shown that remote working improves work-life balance.
Also, thanks to telecommuting, employers enjoy the benefits of increased productivity, reduced travel costs, lower turnover and absenteeism rates and reduced overhead costs (like office rental, equipments, etc.)
Needless to say, remote working is still a challenging area.
So for managers who are trying to manage their remote workers effectively, here are the six best practices for managing remote employees.
6 Remote Working Best Practices
1. Take Advantage of Technology
Remote workers depend on technology to produce great results. That’s why as a manager, you need to take advantage of technology.
And when I say tech, I don’t mean the ones developed last 2001. It’s important that you are aware of the latest innovations in technology.
For instance, a company intranet and email access are good starting points but if you want to build stronger, interconnected teams, you need to use better programs and apps.
For HR, on-site HR systems are no longer the standards for the 21st century. What you need is an HR software that’s based on the cloud so you and your remote employees can “connect” anywhere, even while on the go.
Remote workers depend on technology to produce great results
Setting up a company blog where employees can post photos and discuss over various subjects can help foster stronger bonds and engagement too.
It also keeps your remote workers on the loop.
Lastly, for operation guidelines, FAQs and other important documents, a company wiki is a hundred times better than a bunch of PDF files.
2. Make Use of Video Conferencing
Gone are the golden days of emails and voice mails. According to research, only 7 percent of communication goes through using these media.
On the other hand, video conferencing is more effective. Why? Because communication is not just about words and sound.
Video conferencing helps convey the body language, facial expressions and tone that are crucial to effective communication. MegaMeeting, Skype, Google Video and Telepresence are great programs to start with.
3. Manage By Objectives
Remote working isn’t about hours worked. If you want to become an effective manager of remote employees, you must learn to adopt an objective-based approach in management.
This means that you set goals and action plans for your employees and you evaluate them based on their results or outputs — not by counting the number of hours worked.
I strongly recommend including your employees in setting goals and action plans so they’ll “feel” part of the team –– not just a random worker hustling on a project in the middle of nowhere.
4. Interact — Always
One of the downfalls of remote working is that remote employees don’t get to see “humans” as often compared to office workers.
Hence, they are more prone to fatigue and burnout, according to a study conducted by Pearn Kandola.
You must always interact with your remote workers
To solve this issue, you must always interact with your remote workers. It does not only build trust, it also fosters a supportive relationship with them.
To do this effectively, try putting yourself on their shoes and visualize how hard it is to work away from an actual office.
Remote workers are still humans who are constantly subjected to work-life pressures. It’s critical that as a manager, you remind them of how important they are in the company.
5. Trust Them
By nature, remote workers are independent. Hence, they will appreciate that their manager trusts them to work independently.
Micromanaging your remote employees with diary sheets and weekly updates does not only undermines trust but seriously damages employee motivation.
Remember, remote workers are already facing the toll of self-motivation just to complete the tasks you’ve given them. Micromanaging just adds up to the pressure and does more harm than good.
So instead of supervising them in every twists and turns, work on fostering a culture in which your remote workers take personal responsibility on meeting their deadlines and the quality of their work.
6. Use an Online HR System
Remote employees also need some time-off.
And an HR software which allows your employees to easily send a time-off request to you is the best solution in terms of productivity, efficiency, speed and ease.
Giving power to your employees in managing their time-off also implies that you trust them and that you don’t raise a controlling hand over them.
This practice does not only foster more trust but also boosts employee morale and motivation.
Giving power to your employees implies that you trust them