In many workplaces across many industries, businesses are realising the many benefits of supporting their employees to work remotely, from their home or another location.
Information is found anywhere. Providing your teams with the ability to work from another location can have great benefits for both parties. Employees get the benefit of a flexible working environment that better suits their personal circumstances. Employers can enjoy a higher level of engagement from their employees. And, see a downturn in office running costs on everything from utilities down to tea bags!
Managing employees remotely is a little different from looking after those you can see, however. It’s impossible for you to see whether an employee is engaged or having a hard time. You need to ensure there are systems and processes in place to support remote success. It’s also important to ensure that your remote team member is supported and that their work is aligned with your expectations so that maximum productivity is achieved for you and your staff.
Define Your Expectations
If you have remote working employees, you should have a clear agreement with them about your expectations and theirs (hint: they won’t be the same for all employees). It doesn’t need to be anything formal – an email summary after a face-to-face chat can be enough; if you have formal processes for documenting arrangements, even better. Both parties should clearly understand that working remotely is a privilege. And will only work if the agreed ‘rules’ are followed.
Following your agreement about working practices, you and your employee should adopt a ‘results-oriented’ mindset. One built on trust that your employer respects your work ethic and that your employee respects your investment in them.
Agree On Work And Track it
Work is very rarely about time spent or location – it’s about achieving an outcome for the business. Both parties should have clear and transparent mechanisms for setting tasks and communicating completion of tasks. This is important for maintaining trust and maximising employee engagement when someone is remote.
It’s vital you ensure that the goals and tasks for each day are understood and followed. That’s whether you pay by the hour or per job. Without defined daily expectations, those who work remotely may feel they’ve got ample time to work on a particular task, and then find themselves struggling to catch up due to procrastination. This can spell disaster if you’ve got deadlines to hit!
At Aurion, we use JIRA and other tools which allow all teams to communicate and track work. You don’t need technology and tools, but you do need some kind of system that keeps everyone accountable and happy.
Establish Schedules In Advance
Some clients provide information and expect work to be done on a nine-five schedule. This may mean your employees are available at those times. Often the timing of work is not of a particular importance but strict end-of-week deadlines exist. Thus, it’s helpful to require employees to work a certain number of hours a day. Meaning that the work isn’t put off until week’s end. In most cases, it’s conducive for both employee and employer to understand schedule expectations.
Specify and/or Provide All Needed Tools
It’s critical that remote employees have the tools needed to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. Whether that be stationary, software or support, no one should leave the office without everything they need.
Check the environment of employees who are working remotely to ensure that it is safe and fit for work. Remember – just because an employee isn’t in your office, doesn’t mean you aren’t reasonable for their safety.
Be Available and Check-In
Even the most experienced and autonomous employee is bound to have questions about an aspect of their job sometimes. You need to make yourself available to those working remotely when they’ve got questions or concerns. As each employee is different when it comes to asking questions – it’s advisable you check in regularly. You ensure they’re comfortable and their tasks are being completed.
The old adage of keeping your employees all in-house is long gone. Thanks to advancing technology it’s no longer needed to keep all your employees under the same roof. In fact, it’s advised you don’t. If there are those that work better alone then grant them that; if there are those who have commitments to family members at home, then let them stay there.
Working from home doesn’t mean not working. And it’s with that in mind you still operate as a manager and keep your employees informed and productive!
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