Remote employees are unquestionably here to stay. The internet has made it possible to create and operate businesses on a global scale. Companies have found that remote work has allowed them to expand their global talent pool, increase employee retention, increase productivity, and reduce overhead costs. Managing remote workers is all about the 5 C’s:
- Consideration: When preparing to integrate remote workers into your organization, the first step is to identify and define which roles can be considered for remote work. The most likely positions are those that have projects with specific deadlines, so there will be no question in your mind that work is being accomplished on time and on schedule. Additionally, remote eligible positions don’t require frequent access to items that are still tied to physical office space such as shared paper files or equipment. You will also need to give serious thought to whether roles that require frequent collaboration can be moved off-site. It is possible to create virtual meeting spaces, but as with anything, there are trade-offs.
- Characteristics: Once you identify the roles that can function off-site, evaluate your current or potential employees to ensure they have the correct drive and temperament. It is important to confirm that this person is capable of executing within a remote environment. You want somebody who is a self-starter, self-motivated, self-disciplined, and self-sufficient.
- Collaboration: Online project management software and online collaboration tools keeps your team cohesive and allows for clear communication when working through projects. A few tools you may wish to evaluate for the specifics of your situation include:
- Productivity tools:, Evernote, Slack, Post-it Plus, Sunrise.
- Collaboration software: Skype, Box, Slack, Basecamp, Asana, Igloo, Wrike.
- File Storage: Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, iCloud, Citrix.
- Communication: Stay Connected. Constant communication ensures that projects are on schedule, fires are being put out immediately, progress is being made, and that every team member thoroughly understands what’s expected of them. Put metrics in place to measure the productivity of your team. Research shows that over 50% of communication is non-verbal. Utilize video communication as much as you can – seeing the nonverbal cues are key to great communication. Use the right tools. Your remote employee will need a computer or mobile device which allows access to email, cloud applications, and any required software. Make sure they have a fast enough internet connection to support any required video conferencing or file sharing and if they are using a cell phone rather than a landline make sure that reception is sufficient and work calls are properly forwarded.
- Company Culture: Building a virtual company culture may seem like an unreachable feat at first. However, there are ways around it. Encourage casual conversation, keep everyone in the loop, and reinforce your vision and mission. Successful virtual teams have found great success from getting together for a retreat once a year.