As a business owner, manager, or supervisor, you likely know about or have heard of remote work. It allows employees to work from home—or a coffee shop, co-working space, restaurant, etc.—either part-time or full-time.
In the past, this kind of work was hard to achieve, but today’s internet connectivity and technology make it easier to implement.
In and of itself, remote work is fairly straightforward. But questions remain. For example, you probably want to know why remote work is increasing in popularity or how it benefits your business. Answers to those questions, as well as tips and tools for managing remote employees, follow.
To understand why remote work matters today, you need only examine the latest data.
Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) studies both telecommuting and telework (remote work) trends:
1. Half of the United States workforce holds jobs compatible with partial telework.
2. Remote work has grown by 115% since 2005.
3. Roughly 40% more US employers offer flexible work hours today than they did five years ago.
4. About 3% of the total workforce works from home at least part time.
5. A majority of surveyed respondents (80% to 90%) say they would like to telework at least part time.
Some of those numbers may come from environmental factors.
The Great Recession, for example, left employers seeking ways to cut costs and simultaneously retain talent.
Another factor could be the changing family dynamic. Today, many households claim two working parents rather than one.
The number of single-parent families has grown in recent years, too, making telecommuting and remote jobs that much more desirable.
Besides studying telecommuting and telework trends, GWA analyzes the costs and benefits of the two. Some of the GWA’s findings correlate with the following five benefits:
Flexibility means you and your employees can work when and where it’s best for you. In return, you all experience better work-life balance, which translates into higher productivity and employee happiness.
Flexibility and productivity almost always lead to greater efficiency. CoSo Cloud’s “Remote Collaborative Worker Survey” finds that 30% of remote employees “[accomplish] more in less time” and 24% “accomplish more in the same amount of time.”
Many businesses have sustainability goals. Remote work can help you meet yours by decreasing your carbon footprint.
5. Cost savings.
With fewer employees in the building, you see reduced utility bills. And, if you allow for total remote work, you can eliminate rent or mortgage payments on an office space.
If you invest in remote work, even if only on a limited basis, you can experience the benefits listed here. Don’t be surprised if you discover additional advantages—remote work offers dozens of perks and possibilities over time.
If the reasons for and benefits of remote work convince you to invest in it, use the following steps to implement it:
a) Set your objectives.
Every business is different, so figure out why remote work makes sense for yours. Then, measure against that goal to ensure telework provides the highest return on investment possible.
b) Craft a remote work policy.
Policies cover everything from allowances (see point three) to online etiquette. Clearly state your business’s expectations for behavior and work output. It will produce a healthy working relationship and maintain order.
c) Consider a remote work allowance.
If your business goes entirely remote, you will want to set an allowance for office equipment, co-working spaces, and gyms to keep employees sane, healthy, and productive.
d) Build a supportive culture.
When you initiate remote work at your business, you also want to create a supportive culture across the organization. Doing so snuffs out resentment. It also rids people of the idea that remote work means lounging around doing nothing all day.
e) Rally remote employees regularly.
Employees work best when they know you care about them, so rally them onward. To do so, gamify online collaboration, set in-person team meetings, and engage in water-cooler talk. It will keep the human factor alive even when working remotely.
Also remember to train remote employees about online security. They will be working with company data and customer information, so make sure they follow best security practices, such as using virus protection and strong passwords.
You’ll also need the right tools to make sure you can manage your remote employees as efficiently as possible. These tools typically fall into one of five broad categories: project management, document management, communications, productivity, and timekeeping, and any of these five popular tools can work wonders for you and your employees:
Text and telephone are one thing; video is another. Go for the face-to-face encounter whenever possible to stay in touch with employees and see how they’re doing and feeling.
This communications tool aims to cut down inbox clutter through a live chatting platform. It accomplishes that and a whole lot more with its channels, threads, and emojis.
If Skype and Slack are for day-to-day details, Asana is for the big picture. Use it to track projects and workloads. Similar tools include Basecamp and Trello.
If you need to run remote brainstorming sessions, give Mural a look. The tool facilitates online idea mapping and collaborative creative thinking.
For online storage and file sharing, Dropbox works great. It isn’t the only option, though, so research data storage options that work best for you and your team.
Plenty of online tools exist to help your business and its remote workers get more things done. To find the ones best suited to your organization, think about your current and future needs. Next, test a couple of options before committing to one.
Remote work seems to be here to stay. Employees want it and employers benefit from it. To get started with the trend, use the insights and tips shared here.