Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Five Ways to Manage Remote Workers

With the increase of technological advances that allow for employees to plug into their work files and email as long as they have an internet connection, the office environment is changing. In fact, working remotely is becoming increasingly popular, with 3.3 million employees working from home or out of the office, about 2.6% of the US workforce.

Oftentimes circumstances require that a few of your employees need to work from home, whether it be they are unable to physically come into the office, or other responsibilities require them to be close to home.

The question remains of how to manage those who aren’t in the office. Dan Ingram, Vice President of Marketing at Enkata, touts that “the problem is that many companies…manage telecommuters exactly the same as they would manage people in the office. This doesn’t work,” he explains.

Below are five ways to managing remote workers or potential telecommuters that will lead to success for both your employee and for you.

Understand the employee. Most managers see an employee in the office and assume that the work is being accomplished, without thinking of how the work is actually completed. Consider how much of an employee’s tasks are being accomplished independently or with the help of fellow coworkers, how often they must meet in person for assignments, and how they conduct the sharing of information. This will give you an idea of whether or not the person is equipped to work remotely.

Don’t worry about them not working. While the stereotypical idea of a remote worker is one of lounging on the couch in their pajamas, think again. According to a recent Gallup poll of the State of the American Workplace, remote workers record an average of four more hours a week than those who work in an office. Additionally, Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom found that remote workers did 13 percent more work than those in the office.

Know what makes the employee tick. Don’t allow for an employee with a sociable and outgoing personality to work outside the office, or you will soon have an unhappy employee. Additionally, don’t allow an employee who is easily distracted the freedom to work without the daily interaction of a manager.

Consider them for promotions. Don’t write off an employee who telecommutes as not worthy of a promotion. In a recent poll by Gallup, remote employees are more engaged with their work and company than those who work in the office.

Set up metrics to measure progress. While it’s easy to see progress and results from an employee who is in the office, it may be harder to view accomplishments of remote employees. Set up a form of measurement so that you can easily monitor deadlines and target goals.

Allowing your employees to work remotely does not have to be an insurmountable issue. Keep in mind that these very different work environments call for a different way of managing, and watch your remote workers excel in their job performance.


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