Although spring is hear, this past winter’s storms reeked havoc on businesses across the U.S. and disrupted travel. Whatever the weather, the reasons why companies should embrace remote work policies will keep coming anytime there is a situation that affects people’s commutes. Adopting a remote workforce strategy now will only benefit companies when they might otherwise lose productivity due to unplanned telecommuting.
Remote working is a trend across all types of businesses and is particularly accessible to startups and small companies because they typically aren’t restrained by a preexisting office culture. Between 2005 and 2012, the number of people choosing to work from home, or telecommute grew by 79.7% according to data from Globalworkplaceanalytics.com. That amounts to 3.3 million remote workers (not including the self-employed or unpaid volunteers), or 2.6% of the U.S. employee workforce.
The key to making it all work is having a plan – this ensures an efficient and cohesive working relationship while keeping employees safe and happy. PI Worldwide, a leader in science-driven insights that help optimize the performance and potential of individuals, teams, and organizations, has compiled the following best practices to help managers achieve success with their remote employees:
- Understand Workplace Behavior Inside and Outside the Office. Understanding behavior through tools (like the Predictive Index assessment for individuals) provides a way for managers to understand their employees’ motivating needs. This enables employers to best recognize if a particular employee is the right fit for a remote situation. It also builds a framework for managing workers and the added awareness helps develop a positive working relationship that has significant impact on performance.
- Have the Right People in the Right Jobs.Ask any manager about the secret to workplace performance and chances are that one of the top answers will be, “having the right people in the right jobs.” Many employees struggle under the burden of trying to perform an assigned task for which they are ill equipped. This may become magnified if they are working remotely. By determining strong job/project fit based on the behavioral requirements of the job, managers can motivate individuals effectively based on that individuals’ style.
- Teach managers to coach, not just supervise. One of the most critical roles of senior leadership is to create a culture that supports ongoing performance management. This cannot be underestimated in its importance – and is particularly essential in situations when employees are remote. A recent High Impact Learning Culture Report found that encouraging conversations about performance is one of the top three manners in which senior leaders can cultivate a high-impact learning culture. Another way is for senior leaders themselves to model constructive coaching behaviors like listening actively, reinforcing positive behavior through the delivery of feedback, asking open-ended questions, collaborating and confirming coaching outcomes with the coachee.
- Crystallize Expectations with Documentation. Managers need to work with teams to establish a team charter or manifesto that outlines a mission statement, shared values, and guidelines for interaction. Developing and communicating a clear, consistent strategy, plan and vision will eliminate confusion whether employees are in the office or working remotely. There is no greater tool for building a team than a clearly defined and consistently communicated mission.
These best practices are a great start to think about working remotely, how it fits into your business strategy and what things you need to do in order to manage it effectively.