The concept of working from home is becoming more and more common within companies of all sizes and scopes. Technology has advanced extensively and made it possible for workers within the same company, to work remotely, while still feeling connected with the team. Most of the time, companies offer the option to work remotely as a work perk. Other times, such as during the COVID-19 epidemic, companies make it compulsory to work from home for a period of time. By managing remote workers in these cases, their aim is to reduce the chances of spreading harmful and infectious viruses. For more on the topic of Coronavirus and it’s implications in the workplace, including prevention strategies during an outbreak, you can read about How the USA Manages Coronavirus in the Workplace.
Managing Remote Workers – Zapier (California based example)
Although nothing beats face to face communication, there are many benefits to allowing workers to work from home. So much so that a number of large tech companies in the San Fransico Bay Area are incorporating more and more remote workers in comparison to in-office staff.
Zapier, a company born in California that allows users to integrate their web applications, has been running with a remote team since inception. They are now based in over 25 countries. Zapier’s remote team is comprised of over 250 staff members.
If anyone knows the best way to manage remote workers, it’s the founders of Zapier. They’ve recognized three of the most important ingredients for making remote work successful. The team, the software & tools used, and the processes they work with; these are the keys!
Remote Team Benefits
Having workers in different time zones helps offer 24-hour customer service. Hiring remotely also gives employers access to a wider talent pool. For these reasons, among others, companies and workers are adopting a remote working philosophy within organizations.
Employees who have the opportunity to work remotely feel more valued, relaxed and productive. Also, when an employee feels like the company trusts them to work outside of the office, they often perform better, have a higher output, and are more committed to their job. Not only that, allowing employees the flexibility to work from home, from time to time or on a more permanent basis, provides them with a greater opportunity for a healthy work-life balance.
With that said, the main challenge that exists when you have both in-office and remote workers are trying to maintain a cohesive team that is capable of communicating efficiently. When a healthy and effective communication system is implemented, teams are more likely to strengthen their bonds, thus working better together.
Tips to Improve Efficiency when Employees Work from Home
1. Make working from part of the company’s DNA:
As in the Zapier example we provided earlier, a remote team mentality is in the companies DNA. If you make the decision to allow remote workers or hire employees who work outside of the office, keep this in mind. It’s essential to create a clear communication strategy with guidelines for every employee to follow. The main purpose of this is so that employees are aware of and understand the advantages and challenges they face with working remotely. This communication strategy also allows managers to know when an employee is working out of the office and for what reasons.
The best way to manage absences for remote work is with an absence tracking system such as the one Factorial offers with their HR software. When utilizing software to track remote work requests, it’s a good idea to offer your employees a brief introduction to the system.
It’s important to explain to them how to request work from home day. In addition, let employees know the guidelines and the policies regulating which requests are approved or denied. The key to a successful remote employee strategy is to create a culture where employees recognize the challenges and advantages of remote work and know-how to best work based on them. If employees working in the same office do not understand the value of remote work, or how to handle the challenges of collaborating with colleagues working remotely, both groups and their work may suffer. This point is usually decisive for companies trying to establish this new type of work strategy.
2. Nurture Your Out of Office Team
Attempting to keep track of all your employees isn’t an easy task. This is especially challenging when a large majority of them work out of the office. Needless to say, your job lies in managing remote workers and ensuring they are never forgotten. As much as in-house employees are the priority, so are remote workers. As an HR manager, it’s crucial you are aware of their needs. In addition, make sure they know that they are supported. And, if they require anything, let them know to reach out.
When team meetings take place, encourage remote employees to contribute. You can even suggest that they lead meetings on occasion. This helps workers feel like they are an integral part of the team. Along with this, provide these individuals with the tools and technology to actively participate in such meetings and perform their job to the highest standard.
3. Adapt Office Perks (Offer work from home benefits)
Remote workers tend to miss out on the small perks of being in the office, such as breakfast, free fruit, team building events, etc. Since these types of non-financial perks contribute to employee morale, employers should also find ways to offer similar benefits for remote workers.
Employees who are not present in the office can also miss small conversations with colleagues that allow them to establish friendships and build professional bonds. In many companies, small notes or internal newsletters are sent out to bridge the gap. Information related to the team is communicated regularly so that all employees are kept in the loop on the happenings within the company. When everyone is aware of what’s going on, there is a stronger togetherness that is felt.
4. Tools to Improve Telecommuting
Face-to-face communication and real-time collaboration tools are necessary to make remote and office employees more efficient and productive. Having the right tools allows people to successfully perform their job while working remotely.
Here are some of the most popular tools that HR experts recommend investing in:
- Laptops equipped with separate webcams or webcams for desktop computers
- High-speed Wifi or wired internet connection to avoid delays and missed calls
- Large screens and cameras in larger meeting rooms so everyone can be seen
- Headphones/microphones to improve sound quality
- An internal chat or community, such as Slack, etc.
- Shared drive and cloud storage to work on documents (ie. Google drive)
- A web-based system like FactorialHR to facilitate requests for absences, vacations, and task management within the entire team
Creating the best remote working experience isn’t an easy task. However, once you master the way, you’ll be on the right path.