Advances in technology have made it increasingly possible for employees to complete their responsibilities remotely. While some businesses are hesitant to adopt remote working options for their employees, a study by Harvard Business School (HBS) suggests that work from home (WFH) and work from anywhere (WFA) are more productive than their in-office counterparts.
However, managing remote employees requires different techniques than managing in-house employees. The following tips should help you whether your business is just transitioning to a remote workforce or if you’ve decided to expand your existing remote-work policies.
If you need help with managing your HR and accounting needs in a remote environment, NetPEO is here to help you connect with a professional employer organization (PEO). PEOs offer HR and accounting outsourcing solutions for all types of businesses. Our brokers, available by phone at (678) 376-1212, are here to assist you in your search for your new PEO partner.
Provide Multiple Forms of Communication
One of the first things to consider when adopting telecommuting practices is how your employees will be able to interact with you and each other. Clear lines of communication are vital to managing your employees.
In an office environment, your employees typically have better access to each other for quick conversations, as they can physically get to where other employees are. In a remote work environment without the right tools can make it difficult to get rapid responses to issues that arise.
Likewise, many social cues can be missed without face-to-face conversations. An e-mail or text can very easily be misinterpreted, which can cause unnecessary workplace stress. Researchers call this the problem of mutual knowledge and this is a big challenge for remote workers.
Having multiple forms of communication can alleviate these concerns. Text-based applications can allow for quick communication between remote team members. Additionally, using video conferencing can allow your employees to communicate face-to-face, which can be vital for sensitive discussions.
Establish Regular Communication Patterns
Your employees need to communicate with you as much as they need to be contacted with each other. In fact, a lack of regular access to managers or supervisors is one major drag on telecommuter satisfaction.
Establish regular check-ins with employees as individuals and as a team. A morning teleconference with each employee, even a short one, is a great way to go over daily responsibilities and provide your employee with the opportunity to ask questions. A regular team meeting, whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or even monthly, can make sure that your employees can discuss on-going projects or other happenings.
Build Opportunities for Social Interaction
Coworkers are better able to bond when they can discuss non-work-related subjects with each other. In an office, that can be done easily in the kitchen, in the hallway, or even at a coworker’s desk. In a remote workplace, spontaneous social interaction can be difficult to maintain.
Include the opportunity to discuss subjects other than work into your conversations with your employees. Start your team meetings by opening the floor to discuss personal anecdotes or otherwise catch up with each other. You can also schedule regular monthly events that are dedicated to social interaction, like a virtual pizza party or a board game club.
Mandate a Dedicated Workspace
The flexibility of working from home or anywhere can be very empowering for employees. However, employees working remotely may be subjected to a number of environmental distractions that can seriously impact their productivity. Childcare concerns at home, noisy patrons at a coffeehouse, or poor internet connections can offset the productivity gains normally garnered through a transition to remote work.
You can help mitigate this by establishing rules for your employees’ workspaces. If they are working from home, having a dedicated room away from other people in the house can be necessary. Likewise, employees working from other locations should take steps to drown out environmental distractions, such as wearing noise-canceling headphones
Establish Clear Rules Ahead of Time
Setting clear expectations on productivity and communication is paramount when managing remote employees. If circumstances require a rapid transition to telecommuting, be upfront about any challenges you are facing during the change. In return, be flexible as your employees adapt to the changing work environment.
If you have the time beforehand, it would be best to have a common resource for your employees to turn to in order to understand your expectations. Many businesses outline their expectations for remote employees in their employee handbooks. This gives them a resource they can turn to if they have a question about what’s expected of them.
If your small business needs help establishing policies for a remote workplace, a PEO may be able to assist you. To save yourself the struggle of searching for the right PEO, turn to the PEO brokers at NetPEO.
You can call (678) 376-1212 or use the contact form to schedule your free initial needs analysis with one of our brokers today!