The internet has made many changes in the workplace. About 30 years ago, not too many companies would consider a remote team.
Each employee had to report to the workplace as stipulated in the terms and conditions of employment. In the contemporary workplace, however, having a remote workforce is not only becoming common but also becoming a more preferred option.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce work from home at least part of the time. While businesses are going the remote way, there are various challenges including establishing a connection with the online workers.
Despite the challenges that arise from the arrangement, reports indicate that remote workers have more satisfaction and happiness compared to their colleagues working in offices. Setting up a remote team requires a good strategy to ensure success.
Why a remote workforce?
Before you jump into the bandwagon, you need to establish why your business needs a remote workforce. Businesses must analyze their operation and identify areas that employees can work from remote areas. Concerns have been raised regarding remote workers.
For instance, some individuals have raised issues about productivity. Such people fear that their workers will engage in personal tasks while on the clock. Others worry that working from a remote area, say at home will subject workers to distraction from other family members.
However, despite these challenges, contemporary businesses have some advantages:
- Broadens the recruitment pool. A business can attract top talent since people can work from wherever place they choose. Forbes Technology Council indicated that businesses do not need to recruit the mediocre candidates nearby since they can hire super in another country.
- A high level of flexibility. Allowing workers to work from anywhere offers them the flexibility needed to accomplish tasks. Such flexibility makes it easier for workers to plan for their tasks and accomplish them accordingly. Convincing stakeholders can be risky, but places such as Edu Jungles can assist with crafting copy that speaks to stakeholders’ needs.
Tips on How To Create a Remote Workforce for Your Company
Building the right team
The success of a business depends largely on the kind of team in place. Your business needs to have a team of dedicated workers who are willing to ensure the fulfillment of the company’s vision and mission.
When shifting to working remotely, you need the right team to implement the changes. Without the right people in place, all the efforts to work remotely will not be implemented.
Building the right team begins with selecting the most suitable people to spearhead the change.
Select people who have the capabilities to lead the process. Ensure that they are motivated to achieve the set objectives. Create an enabling environment that enables workers to migrate successfully to the new mode of operation.
Great communication is Important
Businesses thrive on excellent communication among the team members. Without communication, staff members cannot work towards accomplishing the set objectives and goals.
Communication is the key to great relationships among employees. When employees are working under one roof, communication is simplified.
However, working remotely means that workers are in different places, which may hinder communication. Luckily, technological tools have made it possible to maintain communication even when staff members are in different areas.
Videoconferencing has made it possible to connect employees in different places. Apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Slack among others. These applications have dame it possible for employers to keep the communication going.
Employees can hold a meeting to deliberate on an ongoing project. Most important, team leaders need to establish protocols for online meetings.
At the same time, leaders should set up clear expectations when members should be available. This will ensure that people do not join the meetings late.
Having good technological tools is not enough when people are not reliable. Consequently, team leaders need to ensure that all the members participate actively in the meetings.
Hours worked do not matter
In an in-office setup, employers focus more on the number of hours employees spend in an office. For instance, an employee whose job description reads 8 am to 5 pm has to leave the office past 5 pm.
Even when the said staff member can accomplish the tasks for the day at 3 pm, he/she has to wait until 5 pm. This means that the worker wastes time staying in the office, despite accomplishing their goals for the day.
When building a remote workforce, you may be tempted to follow the same rules. However, you need to change the approach from the one that focuses on the number of hours worked, to another one that considers the goals accomplished.
As long as workers can finish their tasks within the agreed period, the number of hours worked does not matter. Outline the goals needed to be accomplished and the timeline. Communicate this information to all the workers.
Hiring remote employees
Employees are the largest asset any organization possesses. Without employees, no business can progress. Getting a strong remote workforce is inevitable for any business.
The idea is having workers who can work in different places yet remain committed to the vision and mission of the company.
Consider the following things when getting staff members:
Hire the right talent
Successful companies are careful when hiring workers to ensure they get top talent. Focus on talent so that you are sure every worker adds value to the business.
Talented individuals tend to be motivated and passionate about whatever they do. Finds out the goals and dreams every applicant has for the future. Find employees who are hardworking and ready to work under minimal supervision.
Without proper expectations, your remote employees are likely to perform poorly. While working remotely offers the flexibility needed, having guidelines remains critical.
Make all your expectations from the beginning so that all the staff members know what they are supposed to do.
( Also Read: 5 Steps to Arrange Employee Hierarchy in a Startup )
Maintain open communication
Remote Workforce works effectively in an environment that allows open communication. People work better when they know employers listen to their views.
Hence, open communication is needed to maintain bondage in the business. Communication should be open and in all directions. Workers should not withhold important information from their colleagues.
Open communication enhances transparency, which ensures that workers are free to express themselves. Again, communication should flow from the superiors to the workers and vice versa.
Employees should be allowed to raise issues and the management should respond accordingly. Without open communication, it would be challenging for people to work together given that they are in different places.
Open communication will ensure that you address the issues that arise and hence ensure work continues uninterrupted. Ensure that all employees have a chance to share their voices.
Do not overlook the feedback from “quieter” virtual workers since they can offer insightful feedback when given an opportunity.
Use software for remote work
The need for a remote workforce has prompted the creation of software programs that can be used. The following tools allow for collaboration and fun.
- The tool allows for random online discussions. The software also allows remote workers to banter back and forth about politics, news and anything interesting. The software prevents “behind-your-back” politics that are common in co-located spaces.
- The blogging tool is useful when posting updates. The threaded nature of the comments makes it easier to share things among the workforce.For instance, the software allows for posts welcoming members to discuss a particular issue. Using Async makes it easier for all the employees to be on the same page.
- This is a simple yet necessary software for tracking the progress of remote workers. As you transition to remote work, you want to keep track of the progress of work like it happens in a physical office.The software allows staff members to make most out of their time, enhance trust and build accountability.
- Google Drive. You need a solution that enables you to keep all the files in a centralized location. Google Drive is the platform where workers can upload files, create directories and share documents with their colleagues.
The transformation of the role of management
Remote teams are a relatively new phenomenon for most companies. A majority of the business has in the past operated with traditional office spaces.
Hence, managers are used to dealing with people one-on-one. The proximity of employees in a traditional office makes it easier for managers to deal with issues as they arise.
Remote teams change everything that managers do. Hence, the role of management must change to accommodate new developments. The management of remote teams differs significantly with that of in-office workers.
Overseeing virtual teams is more challenging, hence companies need to change their approach to management. Implementing measures for virtual employees requires a well-laid-out strategy.
Begin with trustworthy employees
You cannot closely monitor virtual employees as you would those in a physical office. Having people working remotely, while a good idea can be disadvantageous to a company.
For instance, workers can decide to share important information and documents with competitors.
There is also a risk of some workers not doing what is expected of them. Some may even start working for competitor companies, which exposes your company to the wrong people.
Some of the measures you can easily implement for in-office employees like timekeeping may be challenging for virtual staff members.
Hence, when you are starting, you need to work with the employees you can trust. Allow some of the trustworthy employees to work remotely and progressively shift more. This will ensure that the business can move smoothly to remote teams without major setbacks.
Like any other office, workers have to meet constantly and discuss issues. Without meetings, it would be impossible to determine the progress of the company. When workers hold meetings, they are in a position to discuss new developments and new share ideas.
Holding meetings also enhance motivation among team members. In remote teams, such physical meetings are not possible. While people cannot meet physically, it does not prevent them from holding meetings.
Technologies have emerged that allow workers to proceed with video meetings. These meetings combine both audio and visual elements which enable workers to interact closely.
Through vide meetings, workers can share new ideas, suggest developments and discuss solutions to challenging problems. Video meetings can be done via programs like Zoom and Skype.
Additionally, a business can acquire remote workforce management software. Such software has the capabilities that support people to work from different places. For small businesses, free versions of the management software work better since it cuts in costs.
However, for more established businesses, using the paid options offers them more capabilities. Your business can use iDoneThis, Scoro, PukkaTeam, and ScreenHero among others.
Develop your team
Remote work requires a strong team. Leaders should work towards having such a team. Without a strong team, work will be paralyzed. Staff members will be unable to carry out their duties as expected.
As a result, companies need to invest in the development of their workforce in preparation for remote work.
Some staff members may have challenges working remotely because they have all along been operating from a physical office. Such workers need thorough training so that they can adjust accordingly.
A well-equipped team is capable of dealing with changes and other challenges that emerge in the process.
We can all agree that there are various benefits of a remote workforce. Companies are recognizing the need to allow workers the flexibility they need. While working remotely was unheard of about two decades ago, it is not becoming a norm. Your business should not be left behind.
However, shifting to working remotely is not easy for most businesses. It means adjusting core functions and having different strategies. Managing a remote team means that the managers have to adjust the way they run the business to accommodate the changes.
Moreover, it is necessary to get the required software and applications to effect changes. The need for constant communications means a business must identify programs that facilitate the sharing of information. Communication is key and should be prioritized.
While a business may have all the technologies, workers remain the most important resources. Consequently, companies should invest in the development of their workers to work remotely.
Companies that will not allow workers to work remotely are likely to remain behind in this competitive environment.