Did you know that 40% of employees already worked remotely in some capacity before the pandemic began in 2020 according to a recent Gallup poll? By the end of summer in 2020, that percentage rose to 58%.
With working remotely becoming more popular over the years, even before the pandemic, it’s plausible that the widespread use of remote working policies by employers will continue following the pandemic’s conclusion. If you’re someone who supervises employees, learning how to work with and manage remote workers will be a necessary skill going forward.
Here are several suggestions for managing remote workers in your business.
- Know your employees. Working remotely requires self-discipline. Whether working from a downtown office or a bedroom, employees need to complete projects, make phone calls, and write reports. If a manager believes an employee can’t steer clear of distractions and get the job done, working from home may not be a good alternative for that worker.
- Set expectations with written guidelines. A well-documented policy can help your business think through the implications of working from home. For example, guidelines might address the number of days per week that remote working is allowed, how staff should protect confidential information, and worker responsibility for office equipment. An agreement signed by both the remote worker and management can also prevent misunderstandings.
- Communicate effectively and often. Keeping workers apprised of deadlines, schedules, and goals can be challenging when the conference room is virtual. Use whatever means are at your disposal—including email, video conferencing, and phone calls—to collaborate with your team and provide feedback to individuals. Assign someone in each meeting to summarize the discussion, send out minutes, and specify who is doing what and when it is to be done.
- Develop scorecards. At the end of the day, you want your workers to get their work done on time and accurately, all while adding value to your business. The more clearly you document their deliverables, the more readily you can determine if working from home is effective.
- Know and address the challenges. Be ready to take corrective action if working from home is becoming a problem. Your first clue something may be amiss is if an employee isn’t meeting expectations from your scorecards and assignments. Your second clue will be observational. Are there distractions during your calls or meetings? Is your employee available when others call? Is the home setup in an open living space or in an office-like setting?
Working from home may now be here to stay, so you will need to ensure it works for BOTH your employees and your business.