We live in a society that puts real-time information at your fingertips by use of computers and other electronic devices. Technology has made it possible for many employees to work from their homes and other remote locations, which means that telecommuting is steadily on the rise. However, many managers have concerns that keep them from taking advantage of telecommuting.
Some are afraid that productivity and/or quality of work will suffer due to lack of control over the remote employee. Security is also an issue but tracking software is available to help managers maintain control and keep information secure. With the right resources, employers can keep track of these employees without spying on them or creating trust issues between employee and company.
Telecommuting offers many benefits for employers, employees and the environment. Employers often see an increase in productivity among remote employees and it greatly reduces absenteeism and employee turnover. It can also reduce overhead expenses for your company.
Employees have a lot more freedom when working from home. They can set their own hours for the most part, take breaks when they need to and it helps individuals to balance work and personal time better.
Telecommuting also helps the environment because there are less commuters traveling to and from work. It can help reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption and it reduces the amount of toxic fumes released in the air by automobiles.
Now we know the benefits of telecommuting but how can you make it work for your needs and build trust for remote employees?
One of the most important things that you need to do is build trust between you and your remote employee. Workers are more motivated when they know you trust them to meet that tight deadline or whatever the case may be. These independent workers appreciate the opportunity to prove they can get the job done in an efficient and timely manner without you hovering over them.
They are often insulted when made to report in every hour or to fill out daily worksheets to show progress. In addition, filling out sheets and constant updates actually takes up valuable time that both of you could spend on meeting deadlines and taking care of other important issues. Instead of wasting your time and theirs scrutinizing every little thing, take advantage of the tracking tools that can help you keep track of productivity without making the remote employee feel like you don’t trust them. You can give them trust as well as the power to report in periodically in a method that is not intrusive and that will give them control of the situation and they can hold themselves accountable for their workday.
Providing feedback is also important. This helps the employee to know how important they are to the company. As a result, it encourages them to be more productive, while helping you monitor their performance without being overbearing.
Best Practices for Managing Remote Employee Workloads
Managing remote employee workloads is a little different from the office but modern technology offers many resources that make it possible to telecommute and keep your business running smoothly. As long as your remote employee is equipped with all the essential tools needed to work from home, both the company and the individual will benefit.
Some of the basic equipment needed is a reliable Internet connection, access to the company’s internal network through a secure remote system and access to any corporate messaging systems used such as email, SMS, voicemail and IM. Remote employees should also have a laptop with wireless adapter, a mobile phone and a multidirectional conference phone, so you always have a way to connect with them. These essentials make it easier to keep the remote employee in the loop so they are always aware of what’s going on in the office. It also makes it easier for employers to tack production to ensure employees are managing their time wisely.
Technology is always changing so make it a point to keep up with all the latest innovations and adopt them into your work plan. Time tracking tools like Worksnaps can also help multiple employees stay on task on the same project. You can see what one another are doing and check off milestones to remain on track. Here are a few more ideas that can help employers manage remote employee workloads.
Planning and Organizing
Planning and organization play a major role in helping employers manage the workload of remote employees. By carefully planning and organizing the work, you can reduce many problems that hinder productivity. The individual will know what is expected of them and they’ll have a plan to follow telling them what to do when problems do arise.
You will need to adjust your tactics to manage the individual’s progress by defining the objectives. This way, the employee will know exactly what needs done and what you expect of them to achieve company goals. In other words, it helps to ensure everyone is on the same page. You can measure their performance based on how well they achieve their goals within the deadline set.
When you interact face-to-face with employees using Skype, Google Video Chat, MegaMeeting or Telepresence it cuts down on a lot of confusion. Emails and voice mail messages can be misinterpreted reducing efficiency but you can help cut down on or avoid many mistakes when you interact with each other using video conferencing. It allows you to see body language, facial expressions and convey tone that is necessary in order to communicate effectively.
Keep Communication Lines Open
Keep the communication lines open and interact with your remote employee. They need to know they are an important part of your company and that you are depending on them to get the job done correctly and on time. Telecommuters spend a lot of time alone, so they need human contact and your support to reduce fatigue. In addition, it helps to build the trust between you and the employee.
You also want to follow up after all forms of communications whether it’s video conferences or talking via phone to recap what was discussed. This way, if there is any confusion it gives the employee a chance to ask questions while things are still fresh on their mind.
Best Remote Employee Personality Type
Researchers were very surprised to discover that extrovert personality types do better when telecommuting than someone with an introverted personality. Most people assume that the introverted personality types would do best in this type of environment because they tend to enjoy working in solitude. The problem is that they are less likely to reach out and initiate communication with clients or employers. On the other hand, extrovert personality types thrive by staying in touch with others. As a result, they reach out more and ask more questions to ensure quality work.
Telecommuting has many challenges with trust being at the top of the list. It can be difficult for employers to trust individuals when they cannot physically see what they’re doing but this doesn’t have to be a problem. Building trust for remote employees with time tracking is easy and beneficial for everyone concerned. By providing the individual with the right equipment, support and adjusting your tactics to meet the special needs of the telecommuter, companies can greatly increase productivity and everyone can benefit.
Learn more about telecommuting in this guide for workers and employers from MSU Human Resources.