GUEST POST FROM KEVIN CONNER, FOUNDER OF DIGITAL EXITS.
Please see profile below.
Remote work is growing, and for good reason. For business owners, a remote workforce is much more affordable. It reduces the need for office space, supplies and equipment, and it can sometimes result in higher engagement and productivity.
And for employees, remote work can mean more flexibility, even for those who still have to keep normal business hours. You can work from anywhere, and you can oftentimes work in your pajamas. Remote work also gives those with physical disabilities an easier way to contribute to the team.
But remote work isn’t without its challenges, and making a remote workforce an asset requires understanding these challenges so as to overcome them. So to help you turn this exciting way of working into success, here are some common challenges a remote workforce presents.
While online communication has become much easier in the past decade, face-to-face communication is irreplaceable. As a result, you’re going to need to work extra hard to make sure you can communicate easily and effectively with your teammates.
Part of this requires getting the right tools. Email is great, but it’s not immediate enough. Consider using programs such as Slack, as this gives you a central location where everyone can interact. Skype and Zoom are also great for times when you need to chat over the phone or through a webcam.
The best solution however is adaptation. If people are working from different time zones, or if they keep irregular hours, then you need to be prepared for communication delays. If something is urgent, make sure this is known beforehand. To help make sure everything goes smoothly, it might be best to set up regular meetings with your remote workforce. This will help make sure everyone is on the same page, which will prevent communication breakdowns and keep everyone going in the same direction.
Many employees will feel comfortable about not having their superiors watching their every move. However, a work from home employee who lacks discipline can end up burning productive time on Facebook rather than their assigned tasks.
One solution is to ask your employees to install monitoring software on their computers, but some will not feel comfortable doing this. So, a good in-between point could be asking people to do this in the beginning, but then telling them to stop after you’ve grown to trust them.
A better solution is to have strict deadlines with few excuses for extensions. This will give people the freedom to work on whatever schedule they want, but it will also make sure that work gets done on time. It’s a good compromise that should help keep your remote workforce productive.
Internet speeds are faster than ever, but this doesn’t mean everyone has the best available. People may have skimped out on their home connection, or they may prefer to work from a public place where the internet is slower which can create real problems if you’re not prepared.
If it’s critical that your entire remote workforce has a top-notch internet connection, then consider asking them to verify their network’s speed before going remote or before hiring them. You can ask them to run a speed test and send you a screenshot of the results, and if you’re not happy, then you can work with them to get an upgrade.
However, this may mean assisting them in paying for an enhanced connection, so make sure you’re asking for something you really need, otherwise you’ll be unnecessarily funding someone’s Netflix addiction.
The Lack of a Community
There are some advantages to not having your employees under one roof. There is less room for drama, and those who are less comfortable around others will feel more at ease. However, a community can help employees feel like they’re a part of something bigger. They can make friends, connections, have a beer with their coworkers after work, or simply chat during working hours; things that don’t happen with a remote workforce without some effort.
Having regular meetings and video hangouts can be a solution to this problem. You could set up a channel on your communication platform on which people can talk about non-work-related things. If any of your remote employees live nearby, scheduling a meetup could be a solution as well. This can help provide a nice balance between the solitude of remote work and the human need for social interaction.
Leverage Remote Work into Success
Used properly, remote working engagements can provide a big boost to employee morale and productivity. However, this isn’t going to happen automatically. You need to be aware of the challenges and work to mitigate them. If you do, you’ll find that using a remote workforce is a great way to make your company more fun and successful.
About the Author: Kevin is the founder and CEO of Vast Bridges, a lead generation and customer acquisition service based in Jacksonville, Fla. His passion is in helping businesses develop and implement a strategic vision that will lead to growth. In addition to Vast Bridges, Kevin also runs Broadband Search, a service dedicated to helping people find the best value internet in their area.
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