Remote employees are only growing in popularity in the business world. Working from home gives companies the opportunity to hire people outside of their immediate area. It’s really a win-win for business and employees alike. Having greater access to talent means better business overall. And working from home is a SUPER perk for employees.
Accent Computer Solutions, Inc. is no stranger to remote employees. Most of our employees are Southern California locals, but several are completely remote, spread as far as Texas. While others are what we call “flex-remote.” They split their time between working from home and coming into the office. For some, that means being in the office a few times a week; for others, it means coming in weekly or monthly.
Here are some key factors that make remote employment work for us. Let’s discuss 3 ways to figure out if a remote arrangement will work, and how to maximize their performance.
1. Determine If the Job Can Be Done Remotely – and If It’s a Good Fit for That Employee
To keep it real, some jobs are ideal for remote work, and others just aren't.
For example, jobs that only need a computer, Internet, and phone access are excellent remote candidates. In many companies, this could be people on your sales team, marketing department, or even customer service. On the other hand, anything that requires specialized equipment or assembly lines can't be done at home – for obvious reasons.
If a role has a few steps in their process that can’t be done remotely, consider opportunities for process improvement before ruling remote work out. Example: Your customer service team has to print a work order and hand it off to another department before an order can be processed. Would it be possible to use technology to digitally submit orders?
Also, consider the person. While working from home is great, there is a certain level of self-discipline and motivation needed to get work done. Don't set existing employees up to fail. if their in-office performance is lackluster, it might be even harder for them to get work done on their own. As for job candidates and new hires, it might be trickier. You may consider asking one of their employment references their opinion on the matter.
2. Data Access, Security, and Online Team Collaboration Tools
Forget tracking files and materials through emails – start collaborating with your team! To really maximize remote employees, your company should give them secure access to your wherever files are stored. No more worrying about if you’re looking at the right version since everyone’s looking at the same documents.
When doing so, you’ll need to make sure that your firewall also has a VPN. This creates a safe connection between their computer and your server that is MUCH harder for hackers to tap into.
And what about collaboration and communication tools! If you use Office 365, you already have access to tons of them and you might not even know it. Of course there's the normal applications you'd expect like Outlook, Word, and Excel, but many Office 365 subscriptions have tools like Teams, SharePoint, Planner, and many other cool apps included.
Microsoft Teams is a great tool for instant messaging, virtual meetings, conference calls, and regular phone calls as well. It's a central platform for all things communication! Using an online platform like Teams or Zoom to video chat as a group or one-on-one adds a very personal touch -- team building even. Ten minutes of face time could prevent those office-wide, 30 response in-depth email chains that take all day to answer. Think about it.
Related: Get the Guide to Enabling Remote Workers with Technology to learn best practices for maintaining productivity and security when your employees need to work from home.
3. Set Short and Long-Term Goals to Track Performance
Getting used to judging performance based on work done instead of the amount of time present is a transition for everyone involved. To battle this slight change, set yearly, quarterly, monthly, and even weekly goals. Measure the rate in which those goals are being accomplished and if they are fair.
This might take some time to fine tune.
Figure out your realistic goals for project progression and what meets your requirements. Before jumping to conclusions, speak directly with your employee about said expectations. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Again, this will need some time to pin down, but setting those goals is the first step.
At the end of the day, remote workers could add value to your organization, especially if you are looking for larger talent circles to pull from, or if your business could benefit from having people work in different time zones like ours does.
Will there be challenges along the way? Most definitely, redefining things can be tricky. But ultimately, if you set your remote worker up for success, you both can reap the rewards.
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