As technology has advanced and made it easier for us to communicate with one another, we have changed the ways we interact with each other. Leveraging the same technology that people use for chatting with friends abroad and sending email messages to relatives living halfway around the world, more and more companies are building remote workforces.
Remote workers and short-term contract workers are becoming a popular solution for entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as for workers themselves. The ability to reduce expenses on rent, tools, and equipment, while finding talent from across the globe are indispensable for small to midsize business owners. Plus, for employees, it provides the flexibility for working where they want when they want.
However, having remote employees has its unique set of challenges and disadvantages. It relies heavily on employee motivation and management has limited control in closely monitoring all responsibilities. But with the right tools and knowledge, and a bit of ingenuity, remote workers can be a fit to help you grow your company.
Offer remote work opportunities to attract and retain talent
With the increasing number of job openings and companies offering a multitude of benefits, it’s hard to attract and keep top talent. But the ability to work from home can be a big draw for potential candidates. If you want to attract and retain talent, provide employees with the ability to work remotely occasionally. The break from having to commute every day can be a big stress reducer and overall having more flexibility on where to work can ultimately lead to happier employees who are less likely to look for opportunities elsewhere.
If you already have employees working remotely, it’s essential to keep those employees happy. When it comes to privileges, make sure to offer exciting benefits that will keep employees happy working with your company. It can be challenging to keep remote workers engaged, but some popular perks for remote workers include:
- A monthly food and coffee allowance that doesn’t have to be huge or expensive.
- Paid days off, paid birthday leave, and flexible login time for extra hours.
- Sponsored professional growth via webinars and free educational programs.
Collaboration tools for remote workers
While using emails to communicate is universally accepted, constant sending of messages isn’t exactly efficient for remote workforce management. Certain tools are required to make sure that everybody’s doing their job efficiently. Here are some tools to keep your team productive, focused, capable, and collaborative all of the time.
Asana Asana is a cloud-based service that offers various features you’ll need to keep track of your team’s progress. In one simple solution you can use it to manage tasks, track conversations, archive projects, and assign responsibilities to team members.
Basecamp If you need a simple tool to oversee your remote staff, Basecamp provides basic but useful functionalities. With Basecamp you can monitor discussions, perform scheduling, create milestones, do collaboration, check tasks, and much more within a user-friendly dashboard.
Slack Facebook is too casual to be used as a work messenger while other software requires a reliable connection to keep communication clear. Slack is a simple online chat service that offers a less formal feel to the team without sacrificing professional appeal.
Hackpad Nothing beats the handiness of pen and paper when taking down notes as well as comments. What if you could do this in a virtual way and be able to share your notes with your team members? Hackpad allows you to easily share concepts and ideas with your offshore employees and do collaborative work in a simple manner.
Communicate effectively with remote workers
Truth to be told, there is a hidden culture for employees working remotely where they need little interaction and management to finish their job competently. While this is great for many entrepreneurs, you still need to monitor and communicate with your team to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Luckily, there are communication tools readily available to occasionally setup a virtual meeting with your employees.
RingCentral Although it’s a paid telephone service, it’s equipped with various features needed by small business owners. It has toll-free numbers, calendar integration, desktop sharing, private chat, and much more.
ClickMeeting Affordable and easy to use, ClickMeeting is a dedicated video conferencing tool for managing remote workers. There is a free trial available for 30 days so you can try out their features before deciding to subscribe.
Join.Me For those on a tight budget who need a simple program to perform occasional chats with offshore employees, Join.Me is a great option. The free basic plan comes with screen sharing and VoIP calls for up to 10 users.
Google Hangouts No need to download, install or subscribe, your remote team will truly appreciate the flexibility and usefulness of Google Hangouts. Offering direct video calls with the ability to notify other attendees of meetings via emails, it’s easy and simple to use.
Skype What could be more practical, universal, and widely known than Skype? Almost all freelancers are using it to communicate with their managers and bosses without the need to spend a dime.
Effectively manage productivity for remote workers
Freedom and flexibility to do work according to their schedule is the top most reasons why talent from all over the world chooses to work remotely. But most business owners tend to forget these things, making it hard for them to effectively handle remote workforce management. Keep in mind that you need to understand your employees as regular workers, with few adaptations.
Employees working abroad are in different time zones and it can be challenging to monitor the amount of work they are doing. If productivity is the issue, there are several things you can do to motivate your workers to increase efficiency. Make sure to connect your goals with theirs, and let them feel that they are part of the company. Additionally, try to do the following:
- Build a rapport with employees and empathize with their feelings outside of work.
- Do not treat them as remote workers.
- Give positive feedback for good work and praise them for accomplishments.
Build a unified work environment
While working remotely has a lot of benefits, two of the most critical factors that affect team members are loneliness and disconnection from the team culture. Working from home doesn’t yield the excitement of going to the office and seeing your friends face to face. As a business owner, you need to address these things and provide solutions to battle isolation.
The key of creating a unified company culture is none other than open communication, which can be accomplished through video conference calls. Video conferencing allows team members to feel that they are welcomed, valued, and indeed part of the company. By providing them with an avenue to share their thoughts, questions, and comments with other team members, it creates a sense of an office environment.
- Take out formality but instead create a laid-back, casual ambiance.
- Let everyone speak and contribute to the discussion, not just the frontrunners.
- Understand cultural barriers, remember that not everyone speaks your language.