According to a Gallup survey released in early 2017, remote work has consistently been on the rise since 2012. Forty three percent of employed Americans surveyed said they worked remotely in 2016. The polling agency noted that telecommuting opportunities also play a significant role in whether an employee takes or leaves a job. Flexible scheduling is in and the traditional 9 to 5 is on its way out.
As the workplace evolves to accommodate the next generation of workers, the need to strategize on how making the most out of a remote worker’s experience is greater than ever. Given the right tools necessary to succeed, remote employees have proven to be even more productive than their in-office counterparts. What kinds of tools are these and how can employers empower their telecommuting teams?
If you’re looking to build up a strong remote team in the new year, take a look at our strategies for successful management on a virtual level.
Seek out these traits during interviews
When conducting interviews to assemble your team, many applicants may say that they have no problem working remotely. However, this can backfire on the employer if it turns out that the future hire has continuing issues with their WiFi connection or laptop that leaves them unable to get the job done. Rather than be unpleasantly surprised by these issues later on, vet potential candidates by searching for these traits that dig deeper into their working style.
- Self-starters. What are some concrete examples of how you’ve taken initiative in the past or tackled projects from the ground up?
- Previous remote work experience. If you already worked remotely, tell your employer more about what the experience was like and how long you did it for, then present them with a robust portfolio of your accomplishments to better build up a sense of trust in the kind of applicant you are.
- Good writers. We’ll cover more about communication in a bit, but this cannot be overshadowed. If you’re planning on working remotely, you’ll need to be able to write well across the board, whether it’s in a Slack message to a coworker or a client email response.
- Hungry to learn. The best remote workers are not the ones who do exactly as they are told and go no further than that. They’re researching and brainstorming ideas that enhance the company and engage with their fellow coworkers and supervisors in order to share their findings.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
One of the worst things that can happen when working with a remote employee is to accidentally lose them in the shuffle. Determine what your communication strategy will be as soon as possible, especially if you have employees telecommuting from different time zones. Make sure you know what each individual’s schedule looks like (from when they’re taking lunch breaks to time away from the office) in order to customize the way you communicate with each member.
You may opt to video chat on Skype once or twice a week for a more personalized touch that allows you to get some face time with your team and get updates on their assignments. Chat apps like Slack allow remote workers to message one another throughout the day. Share documents and spreadsheets on Google Drive and Dropbox so everyone is pinged when there are new updates and knows when to login and check them out. And, of course, you can always reach out via email or even a quick phone call. Regardless of distance, all of these options ensure everyone is able to communicate, stay on the same page, and progress forward together.
Invest in your remote team
Jim Mullaney, CEO and founder of Edoc Service, Inc. may have said it best when he stated that the best company culture is the one that puts its employees first.
The company culture you have in your physical workplace is likely pretty incredible and offers plenty of perks and incentives to its residents. In turn, the culture you craft for your remote workers should reflect the same values. You may invest in additional training and courses they can enroll in to enhance their existing skills or learn completely new ones. This adds to my earlier point about seeking out employees that are hungry to learn, as they’ll be just as hungry for this kind of training and engaged in it from day one.
By scouting out workers who have plenty of solid experience to bring to the table, establishing a strong communications plan, and investing in their needs, you’ll be able to keep remote employees happy and productive as much as you will those in-house. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, both your culture and your business.