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Russel Cooke

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Preparing your employees for remote working


Russel Cooke offers some advice on managing and training your remote workers to ensure productivity and business success.

The Office for National Statistics found that 13.9% of the UK workforce works from home. The home-based working trend appears international, as one in five Americans already work from home, and that number is expected to increase by 63% within the next five years, according to a study from the Telework Research Network.

Telework's research also found that half-time home-based work saved companies $10,000 per year per employee. With cost-saving benefits being so evident, it's easy to see why employers would consider the transition to home-based work. However, some employers may be cautious about taking the next step, as it is critical for employees to thrive and feel motivated in a remote environment to ensure business success.

Remote work can be successful with the proper employee training. Below are a few steps to follow to ensure home-based workers remain productive.

Choose the right workers

When hiring a remote worker (or considering which employees to transition to working from home), it's important to remember that you're not just looking for the skill set to do the job - you're also looking for a candidate with the personality conducive to remote work. Home-based employees should be communicative, collaborative, and motivated. If possible, look for candidates that have proved successful with remote work in the past.

Provide workers with essential tools

Home-based workers should have the same tools and resources available to them as office-based employees. They will need the basics like email, internet, and phone hookups, but there may be additional tools and programmes necessary, such as a virtual private network (VPN), shared cloud-based drives, or company-provided computer equipment. Have a setup checklist readily on hand so you can have remote employees up and ready on day one.

Set up communication channels

Remote employees need a way to stay in touch with each other and any in-office employees. Email will likely be the main mode of communication between teams, but setting up other voice and messaging systems is a good rule of thumb. Services like Skype, Yammer, and Citrix’s GoToMeeting allow all employees to stay up-to-date on developments as well as engage in remote meetings. Find the best communication channels for all employees and offer training on any new software. Be careful not to overload the team with too many modes of communication, however.

Don’t micromanage

Because employers cannot see remote workers, it can be tempting to attempt to track everything an employee does in a given day, but it is important to resist this urge. Employers should keep in touch and measure a worker’s output, but creating an environment of trust is paramount. Managers should set deadlines and target for goals for employees to meet so that productivity can be measured without the need to look over anyone’s shoulder.

Remember home-based workers

Don’t let 'out of sight, out of mind' apply to remote employees. Stay engaged with workers with informal emails or phone calls. Employers should treat these interactions in the same way they might treat running into someone at the water cooler. Allow employees to talk about concerns or other issues and be sure they feel acknowledged. Also remember to invite home-based workers to company events (if they are nearby). Remote workers should still feel like they're a part of the team.

With the way the business world is evolving, it is likely that remote working will become the new norm. Developing and using these tips will allow any business of any size to make a smooth transition.

Russel Cooke is a customer relationship management specialist, software developer, journalist, and telecommuter based in Louisville, KY. and Canyon Country, CA. His passion for efficiency drives his research, and his work often discusses working remotely, social media, and content creation. You can follow him on Twitter @RusselCooke2.


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