It is easy to see why depending on a remote workforce has become a common practice. Whether you are a large or small company, the benefits to being able to hire talent from around the world versus hiring only within a strict geographic location are evident. Companies can see the cost-effective advantage of no longer needing a brick and mortar location to run a business. Allowing employees to work from home, their local coffee shop, or wherever else they desire reduces stress, leading to happier management and a higher company morale.
Like many other things in both the professional sphere, the decision to utilize a remote workforce is dependent upon its ease of management and success rate. No matter how you decide to organize your business’ structure, the rate of productivity and other key metrics will not simply materialize on their own. With this in mind, it is critical to have some insight on how to manage a remote team of professionals.
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Without a physical headquarters like an office, employees need a way to collaborate effectively. Luckily, there are online resources available like Evernote, a cloud-sharing tool that can help teams collaborate in a virtual space. Updates to designs, for example, are instantly visible to team members in one click.
Ideas, feedback, and progress are shared in real time. Leftover pieces of a project, such as research and data analysis which did not make it into the final rendition, can be organized and saved for future reference. Each of these is integral to success and must be available to workers wherever they are working from.
Tracking hours worked and tracking the changes made during these hours are essential aspects of any business, regardless whether the team is remote or not. This can be achieved using business software that has been designed to break down employee productivity data into digestible pieces.
However, some types of jobs and skill sets are going to be difficult to quantify in terms of their value if the only way to determine them is by looking at the numbers. Artists and other creatives, for instance, might need to be monitored by checking in on the progress of deliverables in conjunction with traditional productivity measures.
Designing schedules is especially difficult for a remote workforce because everyone may work at different hours. Depending on the time zones involved, employees can be working at all hours of the day. For the best chances of success, managers of a remote workforce might consider a more touch-and-go approach to devising schedules.
This essentially means creating your business’ schedule around the patterns inherent within your chosen workforce. For example, if your graphic designer is in Hong Kong and your web developer is in Boston, factor the 12-hour difference in addition to the time of day that both of these professionals are likely to be working.
Lastly, managers of a remote workforce have to be good at solving problems without physically being present to monitor their employees. For this reason, it is a good idea to study what it takes to be a good customer service representative. Individuals in customer service have experience with handling these types of remote problems.
They know how to walk someone through an obstacle via phone or chat. Combined with your company’s task management system of choice, managers can provide step-by-step assistance when needed. It is important to have a last resort conflict resolution plan prepared in case these tactics fail. Make sure to have a protocol that is easily accessible for workers to follow in case you are not available.
This could involve providing them with the contact information needed to reach out to customer service on their own.
Utilizing a remote workforce is becoming an increasingly attractive option to all types of businesses, especially smaller firms who are trying to get their foot in the door in a highly competitive environment.
However, there are a variety of base factors which must be sorted out before you can make your business remote. Following these guidelines can help a business reap the benefits of remote workers while avoiding some of the obstacles of this workforce model.
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