21 March 2019

Teleworking — Is It Remotely Possible for Your Team?

Whether you’ve jumped on the telework bandwagon or you’re still on the fence, remote workers are growing in number and job seekers consider it a key perk. It can be a hard hurdle to jump, but it’s worth looking at the track record to see how telework is…well, working.

A detailed report by Global Workforce Analytics lays out the pros and cons, digs into the demographics and statistics, and examines the potential savings to employers, employees, communities, and even the planet. The report estimates that employers can save more than $11,000 for every telecommuter who works remotely half-time.

A FlexJobs survey shows 78 percent of millennials would be more loyal if employers offered a flexible schedule. Another poll showed that 36 percent would choose telework over a pay raise, and they’d accept 10 percent lower pay for the benefit of working from home sometimes.

So why isn’t everybody on board? What’s holding companies back?

Managing (and trusting) them

Management mistrust tops the list of cons for letting employees work from home. Although 75 percent of managers say they trust their employees, a third of that group say they need to see them to be sure.

But studies show that people are more productive at home, away from noisy coworkers, endless meetings, and frequent distractions. Happy to have the perk of telecommuting, remote workers are motivated to show results.

Instead of thinking about what your employees are doing, focus on what they’re accomplishing — at home and in the office. You don’t assume in-office employees are meeting their goals…or the company’s objectives. You need to set your expectations for remote workers.

Aside from day-to-day responsibilities and monthly projects, make sure your teleworkers understand their goal as a skilled employee within the company. Like every other employee, you hired them for a reason. So let them know how you expect them to help move the company forward.

Then, stay in touch. A lot. Whether it’s daily 10-minute calls or weekly half-hour video chats, set the meetings up in advance. It’s also key that you have an agreed-upon team communication channel, like an app or intranet site. And don’t put in-person meetings on the back burner; get those on the calendar, too.

Creating a community of coworkers

You may be thinking technology is key (and it is), but the human side of connection and engagement is also challenging when you oversee remote workers. Out of site simply cannot be out of mind. Your local employees can grab you in the hall for a quick question, but remote workers often have little face-to-face interaction with managers or their team.

The easiest fix for this? Choose video over voice. Video conferences are more engaging than a faceless voice on a phone. Instead of firing off a lengthy email, call people on Skype, Zoom, or whatever application you’re using. It’s more personal, and you’re likely to get more insight into how their project is coming along.

Create a community connection by carving out a space online for recognition, celebrations, fun announcements, and other casual, friendly interactions. Be sure to spread the love and call out local and remote employees equally.

The market is flooded with platforms, programs, and apps that foster online collaboration. Do your research of course, but you can skip ahead with this: Forbes magazine rounded up the best 2018 technology for remote work — from group chat and video conferencing to performance management and employee engagement.

There’s ample research out there about the pros and cons of a remote workforce (this article wins the prize for comprehensive). In a competitive job market where millennials mill around looking for the right fit, a company that lets them sometimes work from home might even keep them around for a while.