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Providing a Framework for Remote Workers

September 23, 2016

Remote working continues to be an aspiration for so many yet the reality is not always plain sailing. However what remote working does offer, is choice and flexibility; two increasingly valuable job characteristics that let the best employees work to the best of their ability.

In recent years, road warriors and individuals operating out of home offices have become a fixture in the business world. These remote workers help companies become more flexible and competitive, while participants often achieve greater work-life balance. However, providing the support needed to keep remote teams connected can present noteworthy challenges. Some businesses struggle to provide remote workers with an experience that matches that of their in-office counterparts. In addition, a lack of visibility and performance monitoring tools within many organizations leads to a decrease in productivity

The benefits of remote working

Attracts and retains staff

Remote working can be a great way to attract great workers for your business, as well as increased retention and improve staff morale. The benefits in terms of childcare also helps attract more experienced members of staff who have family commitments, and women who often bear the brunt of juggling work and family. Reducing commuting also puts more money in their pockets, effectively increasing their take home pay.

More productivity

One of the big fears among employers is that remote workers will ‘goof off’ and be less productive. In my experience nothing could be further from the truth. Remote workers might not necessarily work a traditional 9 to 5, but they do put the hours in and normally get more done than an office based worker.

For a start, at least some of the time they would have spent commuting is inevitably spent doing work. Furthermore, with work constantly accessible, they tend to spend additional time in the evenings answering email and catching up.

Finally, those working from home tend to be more focused than when in the office. Employers fear that home is full of distractions such as TV, household chores and the temptation to lie in of a morning. I will not pretend that employees never succumb to these interruptions. However, they are insignificant compared to the distractions in the workplace. Phone calls, meetings, colleagues, noise and other distractions make the office a far worse place to focus than home, especially for a digital worker.

Phone calls, meetings, colleagues, noise and other distractions make the office a far worse place to focus than home.

Ultimately the fear about employees ‘goofing off’ comes down to trust. Do you trust your employees? If you do, remote working is an excellent way of demonstrating it.

Demonstrates trust

When you allow employees to work from home you are telling them that you trust them to get the job done. This is a huge statement of confidence in your staff and one that the vast majority of people will respond to. Managers often do not like the idea of employees being unavailable to monitor. They want to know exactly what those staff are up to, because that is what traditional business management says you should do. However, those techniques are born from the industrial economy. They are based on managing low paid, low skill factory workers.

Providing Coaching Support

Communication and having contact with your remote workers is an essential key in ensuring that they are not isolated, unsupported or just forgotten about. They do miss out on the benefits of Communication and collaboration from working side-by-side with others. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings…etc. This is where coaching is a great tool to provide those discussions and brain storming opportunities.

An effective business should have planned ongoing coaching for each employee even if they are star performers.  Professional development should be continuous and ongoing with your employees including your remote workers.  When you stop working on their development, this tells them that you have stopped caring about their development and growth as an individual.  This can have negative impacts on your team as virtual employees can easily feel isolated from the company.  They can also lose sight of what the team focus should be, straying to work on what they think is important, which may not always be what is most important for the team.   Use  coaching, to help keep them on track and motivated toward the team goals.

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