A recent study by Stanford University in the United States revealed a number of productivity and economical advantages for both employers and employees who engage in remote work arrangements. In fact, 66% of global corporations allow part-time remote work, and 16% of all organizations worldwide are comprised entirely of professional teams that work exclusively online.
Since the adoption of online productivity software and high-speed internet access, the opportunity to hire talented professionals full-time is no longer restricted by a localized talent pool. Businesses can acquire professionals for salaried opportunities and integrate them successfully with their onsite teams.
If your business is considering augmenting your workforce with remote employees, we would like to share six important strategic methods that can help you foster a positive work environment and optimize productivity.
1. Outline Productivity Expectations and Schedule
When hiring remote workers to join your team, we recommend considering candidates that have successful previous work experience from home. Professionals that are capable of working from home successfully have an established workspace, and the equipment needed to provide the same level of productivity and service that you would expect from in-office employees.
Because supervising remote workers can be a challenge, it is best to start with a clear outline of productivity objectives and scheduled hours of business activity. Define the hours that you expect your remote staff to be online, and the level of promptness in response. Did you send a message in SLACK over three hours ago, and your remote employee has not responded? What are they doing, if they are not at their desk?
Avoid this type of miscommunication and productivity blocks, with a strategic outline of all expectations. And to avoid issues, consider a standard break schedule so that both manager and team members will know when the remote employee is on lunch. Create a vacation board for scheduled half or full days off that is visible to the entire team.
2. Use Video Conferences for Team Meetings and Collaboration
While many people dream of a work-from-home flexible workplace arrangement, the truth is that it can be isolating and lonely for workers, no matter how much experience they have. Talking to your team or manager by telephone, or instant message isn’t the same as having a human conversation in real-time.
Video conferencing is essential for remote team management because it brings back that human element of connection, body language, and communication. Skype has recently ended the business account services, but many successful organizations leverage software like Zoom for video conferencing. It also integrates easily with three calendar systems, to keep meetings organized for your staff.
3. Reduce Emails and Increase Communication with Tools Like SLACK
Email saturation is the biggest threat to productivity. Does your team send twenty or more emails a day with short comments? There is a better way to manage brief communications, and keep conversations organized, with productivity tools like SLACK.
Managers can create separate channels in SLACK for direct messages to individual employees. They can also create channels for department-wide conversations. And using /giphy animations to add a little bit of humor or spirit into the conversations, can help employees celebrate victories, and share in a lighthearted way that strengthens the team.
4. Manage Tasks and Deadlines with Productivity Software
Your team needs a central location, where they can view group and individual projects and deadlines. Managing multiple priorities can be time-consuming for leadership if they are not using productivity software that helps to keep everything organized, and easy to follow for employees.
There are many different productivity software solutions for enterprise teams that do that administrative ‘heavy-lifting’ for you. One of the most popular platforms right now is Monday.com, which provides easy task management tools, comment in-project capabilities and deadline management options. It also allows managers to export projects and data, to archive or report on project outcomes for executive review.
Employees connected to Monday.com will be notified by email when they have been assigned a new task and deadline, and when there are new questions or comments on the assignment. From a productivity standpoint, it also gives managers raw data to review contributions from each employee overtime, which is valuable for performance evaluations.
5. Communicate Unique Value for Your Remote Team
In the most positive work environments and business cultures, where remote workers and onsite teams work together, there is a potential for misunderstanding and assumptions. For instance, employees that work standard hours at the business location may feel some resentment to colleagues who have the opportunity to work from home. And remote employees can feel that mild to moderate resentment, at a social level.
Managers who are balancing the output from both local and remote (or international) team members, need to be sensitive to this natural social response. Do you talk more about onsite workers, than your remote team during meetings? Are you unintentionally communicating a stronger value for employees who work onsite?
Be aware of the potential for personal conflict issues, by elevating the value of both onsite and remote workers and communicate the combined efficacy of the team. Each employee work arrangement has advantages and detriments for your staff; be sensitive and aware of their need for recognition and appreciation, regardless of where their desk is located.
6. Schedule Regular Check-In Meetings
Keeping in contact with your entire team (remote and onsite) is part of organizing and keeping your team productive, and on schedule with specific tasks and projects. But remote workers can be inadvertently excluded from some conversations that happen naturally, as part of the in-office day. And they can start to feel isolated or exempt from information that helps them stay informed and feel connected to the rest of the team.
Scheduling regular one-on-one check-in meetings with your remote team is a vital part of retaining talented staff. They need that connection with their supervisor or manager, and the opportunity to ask questions or share feedback and conversations about their work and progress. They value that direct and private conversation time with their managers and many studies have shown that one-on-one meetings are essential to boosting productivity for remote workers.
If your remote employee lives within a reasonable travel distance to your corporate location, consider the benefits of scheduling staff meetings onsite, 1-2 times per month. This can also help foster better relationships between team members, and help managers evaluate how the employee is adapting to the remote work arrangement.
For over twenty years, reesmarx has been a leader in global recruitment. Whether your business is seeking to attract technology, sales, HR, or executive leadership candidates, contact us first. We have expert recruiters active in thirty countries and can help you acquire top tier professionals for your organization.