Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you’ve probably heard rumors that remote work is the way of the future.
There has even been talk of 50% of the workforce working remotely by 2020. Is that true? Well, that depends on your definition.
Some may view remote work as an all-or-nothing endeavor, but it’s really the frequency that makes the difference. In other words, “I believe that 50% of the workforce will be working remotely half the time,” said Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. “I don’t think that 50% of the workforce will be working 100% remotely by 2020, or even 2030.”
Regardless of the actual percentage of employees working out-of-office, it’s best to anticipate the future—and learn how to manage remote employees.
1) Hire the Right People
Working remotely isn’t for everyone. Being able to remain focused and disciplined outside of an office setting takes a highly self-motivated individual. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to be transparent in job postings—especially if the role is almost entirely virtual.
For the right person, a remote job is a dream job. Be sure to find dependable team members who value the freedom of working alone. Take the extra step in your interview process to gauge a prospective employee’s comfort level and experience.
2) Onboard Effectively & Efficiently
No matter the size or scope of your company, onboarding remote employees can make or break the success of your organization. Knowing how to properly disseminate data—including where to find company information, who to reach out to with questions, and what tools should be downloaded—can set up a new team member for success.
Whether you utilize a centralized database, or a project management tool, it’s important for new hires to get up and running as effectively and efficiently as possible.
3) Utilize the Right Technology
You’ve probably seen studies that claim between 50-90% of all communication is nonverbal. While numbers may differ across sources, effective communication is undeniably a crucial element in managing remote employees.
With numerous free or inexpensive options out there—including Skype, Google Hangouts, and JoinMe—there’s no excuse to not switch to video when possible. For internal messaging purposes, consider Slack. And depending on the size and objectives of your team, Dapulse, Basecamp, and Trello are worth looking into for project management.
When your workers are situated across the world, it’s important to ensure that they are provided with visual cues that make them feel comfortable and empowered to do their job.
4) Be Mindful of Scheduling
Remote teams often span cities, countries, and time zones. While this certainly limits face-to-face interactions, it shouldn’t put a damper on virtual meetings. No matter where your team is located, it’s possible to find a happy medium—even if that means working outside of the 9-5 confines from time to time.
Being able to accommodate for your employee’s individual needs not only encourages increased productivity, it shows solidarity.
5) Meet Face-To-Face…at Least Once a Year
By nature, remote work involves significantly less face-to-face time than traditional work environments. This is a given. But ask any manager, and we can guarantee they’ll tell you the values of in-person interactions.
If at all possible, we recommend interfacing with remote team members on a weekly, or monthly basis. But no matter the situation, it’s best to connect with your employees—even if that means at annual events, such as holiday parties or conferences.
By directly interacting with your employees, you’re building rapport and increasing camaraderie across your organization.