Working from home has become an increasingly common phenomenon in recent times, with many organisations recognising the widespread benefits to be gained, both for the individual and the firm. But there are lots of elements that need considering and managing for conducting this type of work.
The evolution of remote working
Remote working has gained momentum over the years because of the perceived benefits to be had. For the worker, it can mean a better work-life balance. They can often choose the hours they want to work, in their home setting, and don’t need to worry about the expense and inconvenience associated with a daily commute to the office.
For the organisation, remote working is said to aid overall productivity and employee morale. It can also reduce overheads, as the employer doesn’t need to invest in extra workspace to accommodate those employees working from home.
But remote working isn’t necessarily an easy, plain-sailing option. Remote workers need to be managed effectively in order to get the best out of them. Being away from the office environment means that they can’t be easily monitored or managed.
Because a manager isn’t able to physically see what the remote worker is doing, there has to be an element of trust involved. One of the best methods to monitor the remote worker’s performance when away from the office is to set goals or targets. This is more measurable than dictating specific working hours. Because of the increased productivity associated with remote working, some organisations choose to increase target levels for remote workers.
Define working hours
Many remote workers cherish this type of working because of the flexibility in working hours that it brings. If some employees are better able to complete their work in the evenings or early mornings to fit in with other commitments. Offering flexibility can boost morale and productivity. However, it is important to define working hours to some degree. You’ll need to set certain hours when you can reach your employee, if needs be, and vice versa. You may want to allocate certain times for video meetings or Skype calls, for instance.
Ensure adequate channels of communication are open to your remote workers, so that you can get in contact with each other on a regular basis. Modern technology has made communication a lot easier, so there are different options to suit your needs. Make sure your remote workers are offered the same level of support and assistance, as would be provided if they were office based.
Provide your remote workers with the adequate resources to do their job. They need to be able to keep in contact with the organisation, record information, share files and monitor their progress. There are lots of tools available to help with this. Some software packages allow remote workers to log on and log off, so you can see when they are working, as well as manage timesheets. Project management software such as Basecamp allows remote workers to keep track of ongoing work.
Don’t use software to ‘spy’ on your workers, however. It’s better to be upfront and direct with any remote workers that you have trust issues with.
Involve your remote workers
An effective tip for managing remote workers is to make sure that they feel a part of the organisation, despite the lack of their physical presence. This could be, at its simplest, encouraging feedback and their opinions so they feel that what they think matters. It might also involve holding regular meetings at the office, or even staff get-togethers on a social level.