Managing Remote Employees

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

There is a strong case for adding remote workers to your business. Remote workers often mean the businesses is saving in areas such as office resources and travel expenses. Remote, flexible employees may also have an overall greater productivity and affinity for their company. While there are a lot of benefits to employing a remote worker, there are also some challenges.

Determining Eligibility
As with any hiring situation, you must have a solid process in place for assessing a prospective employee’s work ethic, attitude and personality. Do they match up with your business’s expectations regarding remote work, and can the prospective employee push themselves towards targets without a manager looming over their shoulder? Although some people can really shine in remote positions, remote working isn’t for everyone. Be sure to ask questions that will separate employees who can thrive working remotely from those who need to be in the same office.

Establishing Trust
Closely tied in with determining a candidate’s eligibility, it’s also important to establish trust with anyone you take on as a remote worker. To ensure the relationship between a remote worker and manager is successful, trust needs to be a two-way street. Be sure to set some very clear expectations and be clear in your communication of those expectations. Make sure your remote employees know they can come to you and other management to solve any problems, navigate obstacles and clarify direction when needed. Many remote workers will use mobile devices for their work, consider adding authentication and encryption layers or even look into more advanced resources like industry leading identity verification services.

Maintaining Communication
No matter the size of your company or the industry niche it occupies, reliable communication tools are absolutely essential for any business owner planning to add remote workers. Whether it’s a simple chat window or more complex video conferencing service, you need to have a number of channels to allow any remote workers to be reached when necessary. It is important to establish core hours and set the expectation that all your employees will be available during that time and also have them commit to responding outside of those hours within a specific period.

Fostering a Company Culture
Although it’s certainly possible to run a team of remote workers purely through remote communication channels, you still need to take steps to maintain staff connectivity, whether through video calls or periodical visits to the company’s physical office. Everyone, whether they work in or out of the office, collaborate more effectively when they establish personal relationships. Although the savings and practical advantages can be huge, having largely remote workers can often cause the company culture to weaken. Set some time aside for an appraisal of how “together” everyone in the company feels, and then set a schedule for periodically gathering employees together in person.

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