Working remotely is on the rise, and for good reason. It’s often cheaper to employee people to work from their homes. Plus it cuts the expense and hassle of setting up a physical workplace. It gives employers a greater pool of employees to choose from, which can be especially important for companies in small towns or unskilled areas of the country. And of course, working from home can be a lot more comfortable for all involved.
But managing remote workers doesn’t come without challenges (challenges that some do not want to contend with, as was the case with Yahoo’s CEO, Marrisa Mayer).
Assuming that you are one of the thousands who do embrace this new trend, here are some of the challenges and tools that you should be familiar with in order to run a productive remote workforce.
One of the biggest challenges with managing a workforce remotely is making sure to communicate with employees often and efficiently. Having frequent and open communication can really improve employee productivity and engagement.
Google+ Hangouts is a great way to get up to 10 employees together for a remote meeting at no cost. In addition to regularly scheduled meetings, keeping employees constantly connected with an instant message platform is a good way to feel like you’re in the same room with them all day long. Plus, be sure to talk on the phone occasionally and email too. A voice over IP (VoIP) system is a good phone system for employees spread out all over the country or the world. Calls can be placed and received all at the employer’s expense.
Project and Time Management
Remote employees might be telemarketers, transcriptionists, virtual assistants, tutors, software engineers and web developers, or technical and customer support representatives. The list of remote job types goes on but no matter who they are, they need to track their time spent on projects and time on the clock. Employees need to be paid and customers need to be billed.
The best way to do both is with an online tracking program, designed for managing employees from anywhere. The Timehseets.com time tracking software service is one of the best programs available for this purpose. Employees log their time and employers view and run reports on it in real time. Nothing gets missed and every minute is tracked.
Managers and small business owners have their own duties to attend to and can get carried away with their own tasks, forgetting all about their remote workers. Hiring real self-starters is a must but even fairly autonomous workers still need direction from time to time. Make a schedule and keep notes on what your employees are supposed to be doing so that you are always ready to assign new tasks and follow up on old ones.
Telecommuters might be regular employees who frequently travel and incur reimbursable expenses or they may be remote workers who use the postal service, buy products online, or drive to visit remote clients all while using their own money. If this is the case, these expenses need to be recorded and reimbursed. This can also be accomplished with the Timesheets.com online software – a one stop shop for managing a remote workforce.
If you have employees in other states, you’ll want to be sure that you adhere to state overtime and workman’s comp laws as well as pay the proper taxes. Take a look at one of our previous posts on the topic for more information.