Times have changed. No longer is the traditional office space job the only option. The current workforce, comprising primarily millennials, seeks more flexible work hours. Out of which part-time, working remotely, and telecommuting seem to be the most popular options.
While both- remote work and telecommuting- might have similar descriptions but there’s a slight difference.
Remote work eliminates the need for the employee to visit the onsite office. While telecommuting means that the job may need the employee to go to the office on occasions.
The Need For Telecommuting Work Options
It’s not a secret that employees thrive when working from home.
Telecommuters tend to do their tasks on their own time and in their own spaces, such as coffee shops. Not only it increases morale, but it increases productivity too.
The same goes for businesses. Having telecommuters on the payroll dramatically reduced the company overhead and other expenses.
Like it or not, telecommuting jobs are here to stay. In fact, it has been on the rise in the last few years.
Millennial’s job search looks for organizations that offer telecommuting options. It is soon going to become the norm for the future workforce.
Additionally, during any crisis (like the COVID-19 pandemic), telecommuting and work from home have become popular alternatives among companies.
Although it is a viable choice during a crisis, shifting the entire workforce to telecommuting will be hard.
Here’s what leaders can do to make telecommuting workable in the long run:
7 Best Tips To Manage Telecommuting Employees
1. Quality Communication Tools
The key behind employees to effectively telecommute is to set up good communication practices. Without a good flow of communication going back and forth, it will be difficult for teams to collaborate effectively.
Thankfully, nowadays, this isn’t going to be a problem. Our world is already designed to be everything accessible from home.
This has resulted in some incredible communication tools to stay connected to each other.
Related Article: 22 Must-Have Tools for Remote Workers
Virtual meeting through Skype or Zoom. Slack to streamline the entire team’s workflow in one single platform. Or something like Microsoft Teams allows you to have audio, video, and conferences both internally and externally (i.e., your clients).
Now that we have established no shortage of tools, your primary obstacle will get people to actually use them productively.
Your communication plan should highlight:
- How and when will employees coordinate with the rest of their team?
- How are employees expected to handle customers/clients?
- A communication channel that everyone can easily access and use.
2. Monitor Performance Results
This will essentially achieve two things:
- After the flexible work period is over, such data can help you judge the pros and cons of making it a permanent option.
- This data will also help you with how each employee dealt with the crisis at hand.
Also, it will help you in keeping track of what worked and what didn’t. By doing so, you will have a better Plan B in the future if your workforce needs to go remote again.
The way through which you measure performance is based solely upon your company standards.
Customer satisfaction might be one such standard. How many customers have your employees managed to handle? One other measure might be sick days. Does your team take more or fewer sick days?
You can also judge the performance standards based on the number of key goals the remote employee has accomplished. Does having a work-from-home job increase their efficiency and productivity? Do they deliver better results?
Global workplace analytics is an essential part of keeping up-to-date with the workflow of your employees.
You must keep track of the performance of each employee to judge whether they have been able to get the most out of their time through telecommuting.
3. Get Together
It need not be through a physical meeting, but a virtual one works just fine. When a team works remotely, very often, it might lose the camaraderie between them.
Subsequently, there might be a few instances where telecommuters feel that they are not an integral part of the organization.
Thus a meetup with the whole team by setting a particular time is extremely important. Collectively decide if any kind of team-building activity or event can be done.
It will help team members develop a sense of belonging as if they are all in this together.
4. Don’t Micromanage
I know that many leaders will want to micromanage what the telecommuters will be doing daily. But it’s highly suggested that you don’t do it.
Telecommuting is all about having a work-life balance. Once you start nitpicking, your employee is not going to be too happy about it.
The critical factor here is to place a level of trust. In return, ask your employees to be transparent about their work done.
You can invest in some project management tools, like Zoho, to ensure that people deliver upon their goals.
Similarly, adopting a goal-setting framework such as the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a great way to ensure that everything is operating smoothly.
5. Find Out The Gaps In Access, Security, and Adopting New Practices
Now that work from home is inevitable, it is vital to ensure no difficulty occurs when using the required technology.
Assess the comfort level of employees using tools such as video conferencing software.
If there is any confusion regarding the same, provide some form of online training or course for them. Identify if any onsite office equipment is required and ask employees to shift it to their home office for the required period.
Similarly, once the entire workforce is working virtually through the not-so-safe Internet, it’s a good practice to close down any security loophole you might encounter.
For this, you can take help from your IT Department or can even outsource it to another network security provider.
6. Move To A Saas-Based Model
Here’s the thing. Now that employees will work remotely, there are bound to be issues such as low internet connectivity.
However, this does have a simple solution. By moving your majority of business operations to a SaaS-based platform, you will make accessibility a whole lot easier.
To the uninitiated, a SaaS-based platform or app allows you to delegate the management of things like server management, internet bandwidth, or even security requirements for a certain fee.
Moving to a Saas-based platform will allow even the most remote of your employees to work seamlessly. It will increase employees’ productivity, but your overall business output will reveal positive results.
7. Recognition Is A Must
There is a common misconception that telecommuters don’t need the appreciation that a 9-5 employee needs. The truth is a whole lot different.
Being a telecommuter is a lonely job. It is because you are far removed from the usual social activities that connect a team together. That is why giving timely recognition to a telecommuter is even more crucial.
Additionally, suppose your team is telecommuting due to an ongoing crisis. In that case, your people might be going through a whole lot of emotional turmoil right now.
In such turbulent times, displaying that your employees are an indispensable part of the organization will be just the right morale booster that everyone needs.
So if you are a leader, be sure to appreciate your employees as you do so when working onsite.
Is your organization considering offering work-from-home or telecommuting options for your workforce? If you are hesitating, what’s holding you back? Tell us in the comments section!