An increasing amount of organizations are allowing employees to work away from the office. Some are even encouraging the practice within their business.
According to a recent Infonetics report titled "Enterprise Unified Communications and Voice Equipment," currently one in five Americans routinely works from home. The number of employees operating out of the office will only increase in the future, stated the report, and could grow by as much as 63 percent in the next five years. With the available resources in today's business and technology industries, why not let employees get away from their cubicles?
Entrepreneurs Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson recently penned "Remote: Office Not Required," and stated that the technology is here to enable a successful remote workforce.
"It's never been easier to communicate and collaborate with people anywhere, anytime," said Fried and Heinemeier Hansson.
While the remote workforce trend is no doubt present in today's business industry, administrators must manage their out-of-office employees effectively in order to get the most out of such a policy.
Tips for remote workforce success
Heinemeier Hansson said when creating a remote workforce, employees should be hired on the basis of the work they produce. Hiring managers should not be fooled by the "flowery lines on their resumes." If past experience does not convince administrators of a potential employee's ability to complete tasks, Heinemeier Hansson suggested asking candidates to complete a certain project or test to gauge their abilities. Overall, managers should create an environment based on the work itself.
Businesses should also vary the types of workers at their company. A structure that is predominantly made up of in-house employees working exclusively from their desks may be a difficult place for a remote worker to operate. Heinemeier Hansson advised that organizations have a mix of employee styles for optimum productivity.
Make Sure Your Business Has the Right Tools
Companies should push for and encourage the use of unified communications technologies, like Fonality's collaboration tools, as a way to boost interaction among workers and productivity. Such technologies keep the remote workforce in contact with everyone within the business, whether they are located at the office, at home, at the local coffee shop or beyond. Features like messaging platforms, video conferencing and voice capabilities like VoIP are all inexpensive ways to keep in touch and keep tabs on remote employees.
Unified communications tools can also enable remote employees to collaborate with one another. Business Insider recommended that employees schedule time in which to meet with other remote employees, whether in person, over an instant messaging platform, via a VoIP phone call or other means. This can improve productivity as employees create a support system for themselves among their coworkers. Additionally, this cements the fact that while they are independent in their working style, they are still an important part of the larger enterprise.
Although many administrators who preside over a remote workforce worry about slacking off while individuals are working from home, a much bigger concern is employees overworking themselves, according to entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson. Many employees also fear underproduction while working outside the office, which can directly contribute to individuals overworking themselves and feeling burnt out. To avoid this, managers should regularly check in with remote employees. Schedule regular one on one meetings to discuss how working from home is going for the employee, how they feel about their productivity, and if there is anything the company can adjust or add to help assist the remote workforce.
In addition, administrators should encourage remote employees to visit the office every once in a while. While exclusively working remotely may be necessary for some employees, not all remote workers need to stay away all the time. As such, these employees should still have a workspace available to them when they do choose to come into the office. This creates an environment of mutual respect between the employee and employer.
Overall, businesses should seek to provide remote employees with the tools they need for optimum collaboration and productivity, while keeping an eye on output and making sure to keep in touch.