More and more of the workforce is going mobile. Flexible working is becoming incredibly popular in the workplace, with people working from home at times and locations that suit their lifestyles.
For startup companies, offering flexible working from the outset can make you an attractive employer, as well as helping you enjoy the benefits of flexible working from an employer perspective.
However, it’s not always good news for all businesses, and some can struggle to cope with managing workers who aren’t office-based. It can be a new challenge for your company, but there is a lot of best practice to follow that can help you take control and manage remote employees successfully.
Learn more about how to manage remote employees the right way to enjoy the benefits of flexible working for your business.
Set clear expectations.
When you work with employees who work remotely, you need to make it clear what your expectations are. Working hours and conditions should be clearly outlined in employment contracts, so all terms should already have been agreed to. You need to establish a working pattern that works for the both of you, but you also need to give them some freedom too.
It helps to have a flexible working or remote working policy that all employees can read and agree to before they start working this way. Work with HR professionals to draft the appropriate terms to ensure everyone knows where they stand and to give you some guidelines to refer to should problems occur.
It’s easy to take the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ view when it comes to remote workers, however doing so could be damaging. Regular communication benefits both you and the employee, ensuring that they feel a part of the team while giving you the assurance that work is being done.
There are several communications tools that are ideal for remote working. Slack, Asana and Trello can help you stay on top of projects and are ideal for collaboration between employees. Instant messenger tools like Skype are also useful for instant communication while providing remote workers with a business phone can also ensure that they can be reached when needed. Ensure employees communicate when they’re not going to be available in the same way they would in the office, and ensure that calendars are kept up to date.
While you might have some initial concerns about flexible or remote working, it’s important that you put trust in your employees and give them the freedom to make things work. Without the trust, you’ll run the risk of micro-managing or developing unhealthy working relationships that can be a detriment to your business. Keep an open mind and monitor things as you go in case policy changes need to be made.
Give them the tools they need to work effectively.
Remote workers can often feel under-supported in their roles compared to the support they’d receive if they were office-based. To help workers carry out their roles effectively, you need to give them the tools and equipment they need. There are different options available when it comes to providing equipment for remote workers, but if you expect them to access your internal networks and systems then these should be of the same standards that are in the office. Assess their needs and make sure they carry out display screen assessments to ensure that their work environment is safe and comfortable.
Use scheduling tools to help you keep track.
Remote workers work in many different ways. Some travel a lot for different reasons, while others might work at home or in another office location. It can be difficult to keep track of everyone’s whereabouts, hours worked, etc., so make sure you implement a system where you can keep an eye on things. The GetSling Employee Scheduling tool is a handy way for you to build employee schedules, manage payments, as well as annual leave. Having a tool that does everything that everyone can access prevents confusion and can be a useful way to assess whether remote and flexible working patterns are working effectively.
Make the most of video conferencing tools.
Video conferencing tools are being used by more and more businesses as a way to save on travel costs and work more effectively with remote workers. There’s a huge choice of video conferencing software to suit need and budget, and when used effectively, it can help remote workers to feel more included. Ensure that all of your meetings have video conferencing facilities available to enable remote workers to be a part of the room.
Make them feel valued.
Being out of the office environment can be very lonely for remote workers, but there are some things you can do to bring them back into the fold. When there are treats in the office, for example, why not send something to your remote employees too? Make sure their successes and achievements are praised and make sure birthdays and other special occasions are significantly marked. A regular catch up to ask how things are going and whether any changes can be made to improve things will give a chance to iron out any problems and ensure continued success.
Arrange regular all-staff get-togethers.
It’s good for colleagues to enjoy face-to-face time and regular staff get-togethers, where all employees are brought together in one location, can be good for building better working relationships, as well as help boost morale. There are plenty of exciting and fun corporate outing ideas you can try to bring everyone together to add on to any business items on the agenda. Cover travel costs for your remote employees, and ensure they’re included for Christmas parties and other staff events that they would normally be a part of if they were in the office.
Managing remote employees takes time to find the balance, but you can make it work with the right policies and approaches to management. Empowering employees to be more flexible helps bolster productivity at work and can create a happier, more comfortable work environment.