Working from home: is it a dream come true, or a complete disaster? For many employers, this is a question they’ll have to address whether they want to or not. A more connected world means people can get the job done whether they’re sitting next to co-workers or hanging out at a café thousands of miles away.
As more organizations open the door to the possibility of working from home, it’s time to figure out a strategy – or risk losing valuable talent. As Entrepreneur Magazine says, one of the most important factors in attracting top talent is putting employees first, and staying flexible – even if that means changing your work-from-home policies. But don’t look before you leap. We’ve put together a list of three important things to consider as you integrate remote employees.
Set reasonable expectations
Just because an employee is at home doesn’t mean they’re at play. With a comprehensive productivity plan, you can ensure that your remote employees are making a valuable contribution, even if they’re wearing pajamas. While you’re no longer in control of a worker’s every minute, assigning projects with deadlines will keep you in charge of what really matters: results.
Alleviating employees of painful administrative tasks like tracking time worked or manual expense reporting by implementing automated solutions can give back much-needed time for creativity. Mobile apps like Time Tracker by eBility and Concur Expense offer employees the technological tools and freedom to be productive offsite, maintaining the flexibility conducive to working comfortably.For many people, being in a comfortable environment with less structure can be creatively stimulating. As employees begin to create their own work rhythm, you’ll be able to gauge how many projects they can take on, and increase the amount when appropriate. A goal-oriented approach allows workers to motivate and regulate themselves, helping them become more responsible, and more productive.
Make communication a priority Important conversations don’t just have to happen at the water cooler or in the break room anymore. In fact, they can also occur on a collaborative messaging platform or during a video conference. Although these methods take more planning than bumping into someone in the lunch room, the payoff can be even more rewarding. Not only will people have a chance to think before they speak, but you’ll also have a record of conversations that workers can reference as they move forward. And keeping at-home employees in the loop helps them feel valuable, included, and invested in the wellbeing of your organization.
Workers who are on the clock have a responsibility to their employer to discuss ongoing and future projects while they are in the office. In the same way, remote employees need to make time to be available to their employer. Whether you have a set number of hours during the day, or an on-call policy, let your employees know how and when you plan on communicating with them.
Schedule regular check-ins
Even with clear expectations and good communication, the best plans can go awry. Scheduling regular check-ins lets you go over your current plan to see what’s working – and what can be improved on. You’ll have the opportunity to see the big picture view of what projects your employees are working on, which ones they’ve finished, and what’s on the horizon. When everyone is on the same page, it’s easy to stay on track.
Check-ins also give employers the opportunity to see if everyone is working at capacity. You can’t watch your people every moment of the day – nor would you want to – but their output speaks for itself. Look to see if deadlines are being consistently met, and if the quality of work being produced is getting steadily better over time.
Remote or not? That is the question
As technology provides more tools for workers in remote locations, the thorny issues of local versus off-site employees begin to solve themselves. And remember – you don’t have to choose one or the other. A hybrid is also a good answer, where workers come in from time to time but still work remotely on certain days.
Wherever you land on the issue, make sure you communicate expectations clearly and often, so that everyone knows how to deliver their very best.