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How to Effectively Manage Remote Employees

by Mr Yellow

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If you had to ask your employees whether they would prefer a pay raise or the option to work remotely, chances are they'll choose the latter. Whereas the idea of working from home may have just been a daydream a few years ago, it is by time getting within arm's reach. Digital entrepreneurs are increasing in number, companies are becoming more aware of the benefits which come with remote working, and it's a desirable perk which is attracting all generations, from millennials to older job seekers. Hence, companies must be willing to keep moving forward, and transform their business as required.

Industries from all over the globe are realising that remote working isn't just a current trend which will eventually subside, but a global phenomenon which is here to stay. In future years, it may even become the standard way of working in specific work sectors. Rather than being about working in your comfy slippers at home, remote working has become a new approach to work, and the way forward for the job industry.

The need to transform your company's approach is imminent more than ever if you expect to stay ahead of the game. Regardless of the industry you're in, there will be several roles which can be easily implemented from home, and if proper management procedures are put into effect, both the employer and his workforce stand to benefit.

What are the Benefits of Remote Working?

Remote working is being introduced by more and more businesses as time goes by. Amazon does it. Apple, Dell, and many more local and international companies. What type of benefits does remote working reap?

  • You can hire the best Talent

Remote working gives you as an employer the flexibility to search for talent worldwide, and you won't be held back by location during the hiring process. Additionally, more people would be willing to interview for a remote role, thus, opening your company's doors to more potential candidates.

  • Lower Office Expenses

Having an office space brings with it a lot of expenses. You need to invest in office supplies, all types of office furniture, PCs and other tech supplies, heating and cooling equipment, water dispensing machines, food vending machines, cleaning services, and pay the water and electricity bills. Furthermore, you'd have to pay the monthly letting fee of the office space itself. A study has shown how 36% of employees would choose the remote work option over a salary raise, also making it possible to cash out less in salaries. These expenses can be replaced with more attractive benefits for the employees.

If you still want a small office space, explore the number of office space renting companies on Yellow, and shops which can provide office supplies.

  • More Productivity

Although you would think that an office space would help your workforce maintain their concentration levels, this is not the case for all employees. Office noise can greatly distract people who find it easier to work in silence, and you may find yourself chatting with your colleagues every minute or so, especially if you work in an open plan area.

Remote working will allow your workforce to select their own work environment and choose their own working times, according to their needs and preferences. Each employee has unique physical and psychological needs which need to be adhered to, and not everyone can reach their highest potential during standard working hours. Early birds and night owls can adjust their work schedules accordingly. The focus is now more on productivity, rather than on the 40-hour work week, and commencing work at 8am sharp. Moreover, employees are less likely to waste time due to the time tracking software generally used by remote companies.

  • Health Benefits

Remote working will boost the physical and mental well-being of your employees. Here are some of the health benefits that working from home brings about:

- Faster illness recovery since you can stay working in bed.

- Less snacking on sweets and biscuits, as you can put together a quick healthy lunch, which will keep you going for hours if you're at home.

- Lower stress levels. With remote working, you'll gain more time which you can invest in yourself. A morning jog instead of a stressful commute to work, and a yoga session in place of a coffee break will affect your health positively. Your productivity will, in turn, increase, if you have lower stress levels.

- If you're at home, you'd be more inclined towards adopting a pet, which would enhance your morale.

  • No Time lost in Commuting

Working from home means your employees won't be commuting back and forth daily. They need not stress on getting to work on time, and tackling the rush hour traffic jams. The time they would have spent getting ready and commuting to the office and back home, can be used to get an hour's work done or for a personal errand.

  • More Eco-Friendly

As a result of remote working, a smaller number of cars will be out on the road, and hence, the company will reduce its carbon footprint, and contribute to the environment's sustainability.

  • A more harmonious Work-Life Balance

Considered as one of the major benefits underlying remote working, a work-life balance is fundamental to every human being. In this time and age, young employees are becoming more aware that life shouldn't be all work, and no play. A work-life balance is paramount, as it reduces stress levels, thus making you more productive, and gives you enough time to fulfil all your commitments. Millennials, parents, and older employees can live and work where they feel like, create their own work schedules according to their commitments, attend appointments without leaving the office early, and delight in more quality time with their family. Less travelling expenses also means your employees will have more money to spend on their well-being.

  • Opportunity to Travel

Since your employees will probably be working on a laptop, they'll have the freedom to travel whenever and wherever they want.

  • Lower Employee Turnover

Want to enhance your employees' loyalty and reduce employee turnover? Remote working is an attractive perk which is sought after by several young workers, and one which places you above your competitors, especially in the case of small companies, who find themselves losing in the competition against larger organisations.

What Challenges does Remote Working induce on the Employer and Employee?

  • Interviewing

Interviewing candidates in person may not be possible, making it harder to analyse physical mannerisms, which may indicate pivotal character traits.

  • Communication

Giving feedback, team brainstorming, generating ideas, and producing new plans, will be much harder, especially when employees are located in different timezones. We can all agree that nothing beats face-to-face communication. Remote employees may also hesitate in making contact with fellow colleagues when a query pops up, as they may feel they're intruding.

  • Motivation

Keeping your remote employees motivated and engaged is more challenging when your team is dispersed, so achieving targets may become an uphill battle. Check out these 5 ways to keep your employees motivated.

  • Distractions

Employees may face more distractions at home or in a coffee shop, rather than at the office, making them less productive. If proper task management tools are not put in place, you won't be in the know whether your employees are actually on the job or not.

  • Unplugging

Working at an office means that at some point in the afternoon, you switch off your PC, pack your bags, and leave. With remote working, you'll be getting work done in between appointments, errands and other commitments, so it may be harder to draw a line when you should put away your laptop. Since working while travelling becomes the norm, going on a work-free vacation may be hard to accomplish. Remote working becomes a different way of living, rather than just a different way of working.

  • Loneliness

Going to work helps you meet new people, bond with fellow team members, and gives you a chance to share any happy and troublesome experiences with your colleagues. Working from home limits your social interaction, and can lead to feelings of loneliness and anxiety if your circle of friends is limited in size.

Despite all the above-mentioned struggles, there's a solution for each challenge you encounter as a remote business owner. How to counteract these issues will be discussed below.

Which Procedures should you Adopt to make Remote Working possible?

If you're considering introducing remote working, here are the main procedures you should follow to help you manage your remote workforce, and ensure the smooth running of your business:

1. Hire the Right People

Although every job seeker will be fascinated by the idea of working from home, not every candidate can actually carry out work remotely. As an employer you need to seek people with an independent attitude and with impeccable self-discipline, candidates motivated enough to work unsupervised outside the office, applicants who are target-oriented, people who can communicate effectively, and who would take the initiative to update their employers regularly on their work.

Use platforms such as LinkedIn to search for the best talent around, and check out these tips for hiring the best candidate, how to recruit the right person, and questions you should ask to potential candidates.

2. Share the Company Vision with all Employees

The company vision and its future objectives must be common knowledge amongst all your employees, and you must make sure they engage with them if you want to ensure a successful remote business. Having a strong company culture which encourages honesty, transparency and respect, and which gives value to skills and achievements, is crucial to retain the loyalty of your employees, and boost their motivation levels.

3. Create a Structured System for your Data

If your employees are working away from the office, it is imperative that a clear work structure is put into effect. All procedures must be documented in as much detail as possible, and data sorted and organised into shared folders. Having a systematised structure is quintessential when managing a remote team, as data can be retrieved easily, and you'll lower the chances of having a virtual pandemonium of documents. Invest in unlimited cloud storage, such as Google Docs, which allows all your employees to share documents online, making it possible to access them 24/7.

4. Produce Precise Timelines and Project Targets

In addition to a methodical structure, make sure you produce definite work timelines and clear targets. Employees need to be aware of what is expected of them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. If they know what you need, and when you need it for, they can set their priorities in order, and manage their work more effectively. Setting targets will ensure your workforce meets its goals and respects the predetermined timelines. Remote working shouldn't revolve around the number of working hours, but about meeting targets and producing high-quality work.

5. Use a Project Management Tool to Monitor all Work

An effective project management system is the backbone of any remote company. You can find a number of professional tools available on the market, some of the most renowned being Trello, Asana, Hubstaff, HiveDesk and Basecamp. Their free trials will help you find the tool that best suits your business. A centralised project management tool will help you, as an employer, assign tasks, track the status of each project, see what's completed, and set reminders. Thus, the employer and each team member would remain in the loop of what's pending, and new projects in the pipeline.

Moreover, choose a management tool which also provides time tracking. This will help you keep track of progress and will help you review your employees' performance. Your employees will also benefit, as a time tracking tool will encourage them to fight all distractions, and keep their mind to the task at hand. Although it may seem like you're watching them, they'll boost their time management skills, and, in the long run, produce more work, and strive to do better every day.

Explore the best task management software for your business, or contact one of the software development companies on Yellow to design a system specifically tailored to your needs. An IT consultancy company can help you pinpoint the necessary IT systems needed to manage your remote workforce.

6. Maintain Constant Communication

Since face-to-face communication is out of the question, you need to introduce user-friendly and reliable communication channels through which issues can be addressed effectively. Skype, Google Hangouts and Slack are examples of tools you need to consider for your business.

Weekly video calls will help you stay abreast with each project's progress, and manage projects effectively. Setting up these meetings may be tricky if employees are located in different time zones, but do try and keep these meetings part of your weekly mission.

Introducing an online chat portal is fundamental to a remote company, as an instant messaging channel can help solve small issues in no time. Sending emails, in this case, is not effective, as small queries will get lost amongst the myriad of emails tackling bigger projects. Make sure the chat portal allows both personal and team chats for maximum convenience. Do keep in mind that although it's an instant chat portal, an employee might be in mid-sleep, while another in full swing, as a result of different time zones and flexible working schedules. So an urgent issue may still take longer than expected to be solved.

This portal can also include channels where team members can bond together over jokes, and where experiences can be shared with each other. Having your employees feeling part of a team will assist you in keeping them motivated.

Different circumstances will require the use of different channels, and employees should be made aware of which channel to use in specific situations. When is it ok to communicate through a private chat? When should you send an email? Knowing how to communicate will help your employees sort out any issues without hesitation. Preferably, a mentor is assigned to each new employee to act as a reference point, in case of any query he/she may have.

A yearly company meeting will also help your workforce get to know each other in an informal environment. Explore these top team-building events that won't break the bank and 5 tips on effective team-building.

7. Evaluate and give Feedback

Are your remote employees meeting their goals? Is their work of high quality? How much time do they spend on each task? Evaluate your employees' outputs and compare work carried out remotely to that done in the office, if your workforce consists of a mix of remote and in-office employees. Give regular feedback to all employees, so they remain engaged with their work, and amplify their efforts.

Discover 7 ways to help your employees improve their time management, and send them these tips on how to stay focused at work and how to stop procrastinating. Also, explore how to give constructive feedback without compromising relationships.

Interesting Stats related to Remote Working

Scores of studies have been carried out in recent years, and thought-provoking data has been issued as a result. Here are some compelling stats which will turn your head around:

  • 99% would like to have a remote job at some point in their lives.
  • 95% would recommend remote working to close family and friends.
  • 91% of business owners support the idea of remote work.
  • 90% of remote workers aspire to keep on working remotely until the end of their career life.
  • 60% would leave their full-time office job to follow their remote work on a full-time basis if offered the same pay.
  • 68% of millennials consider the option to work remotely as an added bonus when going through job offers.
  • 58% would feel more motivated working away from the office.
  • 39% would be willing to work extra hours when working remotely.
  • ⅔ of managers find their remote workforce to be more productive.
  • 62% changed jobs in the past, or are thinking of moving to another workplace if the current company doesn't offer flexible working hours.
  • 38% believe a remote working option is the main factor underlying job satisfaction.
  • 85% of employers attract more talent when hiring if they allow remote working.

A physical office does have its benefits. However, if you put into place the necessary structures, monitor work on a regular basis, hire the right kind of people, communicate incessantly, and make use of effective project management systems, we can guarantee you'll still achieve all your business targets, and boost your company's growth.

Ditch the traditional office space and embrace this shift in today's work culture. The concept can be introduced slowly by allowing your workforce to split the working hours between home and the office, giving you the opportunity to evaluate their productivity.

As we expect to see more business owners offering the option of remote working in the coming years, contact one of the business consultants on Yellow, and keep your company culture up-to-date with the current times.

Discover other benefits and perks at work which your employees are expecting in 2019.

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Mr Yellow
About Mr Yellow

With a passion for helping others and a desire to making you more efficient, Mr Yellow has managed to arm himself with powerful capabilities making your daily searches a breeze. Putting his knowledge, creativity and wit into action, he also crafts insightful and engaging articles encouraging you to explore the Maltese Islands and experience new adventures, while offering some interesting tips on a number of topics. Ever-present, Mr Yellow always has your back. 

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