Each workday, millions of Americans wake up and get ready for work, enjoy their breakfast and coffee, and then start working… without ever leaving their homes. This is the result of a paradigm shift in today’s workplace. In years past, working from home seemed unrealistic across a number of industries. Today, that is not the case. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that 23% of employees do some or all of their work at home. Flexjobs, a leading job search website specializing in freelance, remote, and part-time jobs, predicts that one-third of employees will work remotely in the next 10 years. If your small business has remote workers, you need to make sure they maximize their productivity and efficiency, and it starts by providing them with the right tools, technology and support. Failure to do this can be damaging to your bottom line and result in poor employee morale. This Balboa Capital blog post has tips on how to help your remote workers succeed.
1. Provide them with adequate training.
When you hire remote workers, they will no doubt need training to strengthen their skills and learn how to utilize your company’s systems and technologies properly. If they don’t receive the proper amount of training, they will run into problems while working in their home offices. Even the most skilled remote employees can lag behind if they do not fully understand your company’s processes and protocols, or if they cannot get swift responses to their requests for assistance. Remember, your remote workers are all alone, so they do not have the luxury of walking over to the accounting, IT, or sales departments when they have questions or need to address problems.
2. Keep them connected.
Your remote employees will not be able to meet with their colleagues to chat about sports, fashion, or the latest Netflix series. They will miss out on this social interaction, and it can make them feel isolated and out of the loop. Fortunately, there are ways to keep them connected with your company and your team members, even though they are miles away or in a different time zone. Have your information technology (IT) team build an intranet that is only accessible to your employees, and keep it updated with company news, videos, and photographs. Your intranet can also be equipped with software that lets your remote employees collaborate on projects, send instant messages to groups and individuals, and share important files and documents with ease.
3. Have company calls and virtual meetings.
Project management software and emails are non-verbal, which makes them less personal than voice or video communication. Moreover, non-verbal communication can often result in misunderstandings between employees if the information provided is not thorough, or if it has a tone that leaves the message unclear. To eliminate any confusion and keep everyone on the same page, set aside time to have company conference calls and virtual meet-ups. This gives your remote employees and on-site employees the opportunity to talk to each other, recommend ideas, and discuss business-related topics in a more personal and easily understood manner. There are a number of software companies that offer affordable cloud-based video conferencing services, and you can even record your meetings in a variety of video formats, if needed. A good rule of thumb is to schedule your meetings once or twice a month when it is convenient for all your employees, and ask them to bring some ideas to the table.
4. Fly them out.
Having remote employees is good for your company’s bottom line because you are saving money on office rent, furniture, electricity, and parking, to name a few. That means you should have sufficient capital available to fly them out to your company headquarters once a year, or whenever it is needed. In-person meetings allow your employees put names to faces and bond with each other in the workplace. If you have your remote employees visit your office, consider having a team outing or fun-filled event. Games and team-building activities are fun for employees; they provide an opportunity for everyone to relax, be creative, and work towards a common goal.
5. Recognize their achievements.
One of the best things you can do for your employees is to give them kudos. Telling them how much you appreciate their efforts and contributions goes a long way. It makes your employees happy, creates a positive work environment, and can reduce employee turnover. When showing recognition to your employees who are standing above the rest, make sure to include those who are working remotely. Working from home can cause some employees, even those who are over performing, to feel like they are not an integral part of your company’s success. So, reach out to them via telephone or email to give them positive feedback.