When managing employees who will be working remotely there are many dos and don't to follow. Here are a few of the most basic, and also most powerful to consider if you have decided to outsource or allow your employees to work from home.
Make your primary focus on their productivity. At the end of the day getting work done well is what drives profits and move your company forward. It can be tempting to focus on what an employee is doing at specific times or how often you have scheduled check in calls, but if the work is top-notch these should be secondary concerns.
Checking in is important however. Even if an employee does great work from home, they still need to be on the same page as the rest of the team to make sure that work fits in with the larger plan and organizational goals. The scheduling of check in calls will depend on your business needs, and it may take a few tries to find out how often they should be scheduled for maximum benefit. Also consider that some remote workers may need differing frequency check ins based on their work habits proficiency.
Make sure to make small talk when you do check in with employees. While working from home can seem like a dream come true to most, it can also become very boring and isolating. Keeping up office small talk keeps a remote employee engaged with your business culture and feeling like a part of the team.
A major issue many work from home employees run into is burn out due to trying to accomplish too much. When your home is your office its difficult to feel like you are ever completely out of work. Monitor how much employees are working and if it seems like they are putting in too many hours don't feel weird telling them to work less. While the initial productivity benefits might be great for the bottom line, replacing that employee when they burn-out and quit in three months isn't.
Depending on what type of work is being done don't necessarily expect regular work hours. This won't be the case if your company is doing support or another function that requires timely contact during business hours, but if you are doing anything project based it can be helpful to let the employee work when it suits them. Everyone differs in the times when they feel most motivated or creative, working from home lets employers harness this in a productive way.
It can be a fine line between giving a remote worker the support they need and micro managing them. Get feedback on how your management style works for them and what they would prefer in terms of frequency of contact and any support they need. Remember that you have a chance to learn how to improve as much as they do and take any feedback they give seriously.
Use online tools to maximize time worked. The type of work being done will dictate which tools will provide the most benefit. Almost any situation could utilize skype.com to allow for making video calls and getting face time with employees. If your employees are working on contract projects hourly a time tracking and invoicing tool like AllInvoice.com could come in handy to track the number of hours worked and invoice clients. There are many diverse and affordable online business software tools out there, consider your needs and then find what will work for you.
By using these pieces of advice you can increase productivity and keep your remote workers happy. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of allowing employees to work from home you can create a balanced and fulfilling work atmosphere for everyone.
If you need to find a time tracking and invoicing software application for remote workers or virtual assistants check out our time tracking software.