Remote workers make up of roughly 10 percent of America’s workforce, according to MIT Sloan Management Review, and current cost-cutting trends suggest that this trade of cubicles for cafes and kitchen tables will continue. In fact, many companies see remote work as a significant perk they can offer their employees—which is one more edge in the competition for top talent.
Remote working provides several critical benefits for companies, the most important being the ability to recruit and to retain employees from any geographical region. If you’re looking to stack your company with top talent, remote work is a great option to consider. Here are five ways to help your remote employees thrive wherever they work.
When employees are unable to walk down the hall to ask a co-worker a question, training and clear goals become all the more important. Training is always an important investment for companies, but in the case of remote workers, a strong training program must be built into the system.
A remote working program shouldn’t just focus on training the rank and file employees. At Workshifting, Phil Montero of The Anywhere Office shares, “Too many organizations stumble into flexible work on an ad-hoc basis, and then adapt to it only when they realize that it’s happening. Successful organizations make sure their managers are trained in how to lead remote employees and take a deliberate approach and strategy.”
2. Constant communication
Many successful remote workers use Skype all day to chat and stay in touch with colleagues. However, it’s also beneficial to replace water cooler conversations by connecting through social media. When it comes to conflict, disagreements, or critique, phone calls are always better than e-mails. Besides avoiding conflict, regular communication and collaboration prevents employees from focusing too narrowly on their own projects.
Billie Williamson of Ernst & Young shares some important tips on staying in touch: “Think about setting up a community homespace featuring pictures and profiles of team members, a discussion board, a team calendar, or a chat room. That will help team members connect with each other outside of meetings and create a closer bond as a group.”
3. Regular meetings
Regular weekly or monthly meetings take communication to the next level by revealing the personalities of various employees and offering a forum to report on progress. This offers both accountability and clarity on the big picture of the company, enabling employees to stay on the same page with one another.
Andy McLoughlin of Huddle uses weekly video conference calls to keep all of his employees on the same page. He writes, “This ensures that the product, development, marketing, partner, sales and management team all have full visibility of what is going on across the business (and what the people they’re working with actually look like!) Any team members that have joined that week can also be introduced to everyone.”
4. Focus on clear goals
Clear goals will ensure that your employees are motivated to work hard and have opportunities to succeed. Sharyn Lauby writes at Mashable, “Once an employee understands the goals of the company and how he fits into those goals, it’s essential to establish individual expectations of performance. Clearly explaining goals and expectations is a critical component to the success of a remote team.
5. Provide resources
As if it wasn’t enough that remote workers save their employers on office-related costs, most of the software required to work remotely is either free or inexpensive and extremely easy to use. Your expenses may be limited to a lap top, smartphone, and some software.
Tony Bradley writes in Entrepreneur magazine, “Small and medium businesses in particular should embrace cloud-based productivity and collaboration platforms such as Google Docs or Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Services (soon to be rebranded as Office 365). Services like Box.net, Dropbox, and Syncplicity also provide a means of sharing information between remote co-workers.”
There’s a reason why so many Fortune 500 companies are migrating toward a remote work force: employees enjoy it and the benefits to the company are irresistible. The technology available today makes it easy to keep in touch with a remote work force, eliminating any communication barriers that may have existed in the past. If a company is in its early stages, there’s no better time to gain the edge on this growing trend.