Innovations in technology and communication practices have caused companies to hire more remote workers than ever. The number of employees that regularly works from home has grown by 140 percent since 2005, according to Global Workplace Analytics. A total of 4.3 million people work remotely at least half of the time. Many employees enjoy the flexibility, while employers can save money by reducing in-office workers.
However, remote workers can face problems that can affect their morale and work performance. According to a Buffer survey, some of the biggest challenges fully remote workers face include:
- Collaborating/communication issues
- Staying motivated
- Time zone differences
As an employer, it's your responsibility to create a productive environment for in-office and remote staff. Here are some useful tips to help you manage fully remote employees:
Create a community
If fully remote workers don't feel like they are part of a team, they might not feel motivated to complete their best work. Don't isolate your remote employers. Involve them in meetings via telecommunication. Include them in department emails. Give them as much of a voice as your in-house employees.
Set clear expectations
When you hire new remote employees, make sure you have an extensive onboarding process to provide them with proper tools for success. Even when they are fully ramped, stay in constant contact. Set weekly one-on-one meetings to make sure you're on the same page. Share examples of past projects to give remote workers an idea of your expectations. When employees are prepared, they can complete high quality projects.
Be available and accessible
In-house employees can step into your office if they need help with something. Your remote workers don't have this luxury. Make sure you stay available at all times during the working day. Prioritize emails and calls from remote staff members. Keeping them waiting could hold up work on their end.
It's important to maintain communication across your team, especially if you work in a different time zone than some of your remote employees. For instance, if you live on the East Coast, you should be available by phone or email after you leave work for the day. Perhaps one of your remote West Coast workers needs clarification at the end of their working day.
Provide reliable collaboration tools
When working alongside in-office employees, you can usually gauge their moods and opinions on initiatives. Speaking on the phone might not provide this same insight into what remote workers are thinking. Don't underestimate the power of nonverbal communication. Video conferencing combines the benefits of in-person communication with the convenience remote workers desire.