Telecommuting and remote workforces are on the rise. In fact, SHRM reports that by 2020, three-quarters of U.S. employees will work remotely. Remote working certainly offers advantages to employees—flexibility, reduced commute times, decreased childcare costs and productivity, but it presents managers with the challenge of less interaction with their employees. As a manager, how can you maximize the advantages and minimize the disadvantages? Check out these tips for managing remote employees:
- Recruit the right traits. It requires a unique personality and skillset to successfully work remotely. First and foremost, remote employees should be self-starters who are able to work independently toward a group goal. A few attributes to look for when hiring a remote employee include self-motivated, reliable, strong work ethic, result-oriented, ability to prioritize, communication, tech savvy and organized.
- Check in frequently. Though one-on-one weekly meetings can seem useless for in-house employees, frequent check ins are essential with remote employees. Whether you touch base via a quick phone call, email, instant chat or a weekly meeting, it’s important to remind remote workers that you have not forgotten about them and their hard work. Plus, it provides remote employees with the opportunity to fill you in on their projects and concerns.
- Use video conferencing and other technology to keep in touch. Though you’re never going to get the same level of face time with a remote employee as you will with in-house employees, technology today makes video conferencing and keeping in touch easy. If you’re holding one-on-one or team meetings, do your best to make it feel like those remote workers are physically in the room. Instant messaging services are also a great way to communicate throughout the day.
- Measure performance by outcome. Since you lack the accountability that stems from seeing an employee at his/her desk, it is important to set clear expectations, benchmarks, timelines and goals for remote employees and hold them accountable for these deliverables. Due to the nature of their remote position, a remote employee’s performance must be measured by results, not the hours spent at his/her desk.
The bottom line is that remote employment provides many opportunities for a variety of industries and workforces, but for maximum productivity, remote employees must be managed effectively.