A while back we wrote about how the U.S. workforce is going to be working remotely by 2027. In that same post, we discussed the benefits and drawbacks of having your employees work from home. To save you a click, the consensus of the research from that article was that there are benefits to having employees work from home, but the research in the area is still new and work-from-home programs may not be best suited for all work types.
An article by the Society for Human Resources in 2019 stated that some big-name companies like Best Buy, IBM, Yahoo, and Aetna are pulling back their telecommuters. The article hypothesizes that the reason this is happening is that employers aren’t equipped to properly train remote employees.
With this growing trend in the workforce, it is paramount that managers begin to adapt to handling remote workers to ensure they remain productive at home. For this week we will be talking about some strategies on how to best manage employees that work from home, from making sure that remote employees are productive to ensure that they aren’t lonely away from the office.
Managing Remote Employees
A research article published in 2000 by University of California Irvine professors Judith and Gary Olson breaks down the tools needed to make remote employees more productive. In their research they found that a remote team is likely to succeed if management assigns independent work modules to locations, so they don’t have to communicate much; are comprised of people who have worked together, have common ground and common work styles, and enjoy working together; and have access to high-end technology that eases the remote collaboration process.
Yet the researchers found that the factors outlined above are rare in the workplace, and typically remote teams will be working on projects under circumstances that are the opposite of what they need to succeed. These teams, as the researchers put it, “will encounter stresses that interfere with success and, sadly, either meet the challenges with great effort or fail.”
When managing remote workers there is a lot that can be done to make distance work done. As the researcher illustrated, managers can choose the right people for the team or job, help them discover common ground with one another, help motivate them, and divide up the work so the distant employees don’t have to communicate constantly to complete their goals for the project.
Along with this, there are some things that managers can do to ensure that their remote employees are staying productive and happy with their work. Some of the three biggest things that employees face when working remote are:
Burnout- is a common issue among employees that work in the office but is even more present in remote employees. Employees using flex or remote policies often feel indebted to their employers and will work harder until they burnout. To combat this, check in with employees and ask what is going on with them. Remote employees with burnout are harder to spot because employers don’t seem them on a day-to-day basis, so it’s important to check-in and see how they are handling their workload.
Loneliness- According to a 2018 report on the State of Work, the biggest struggle that remote employees face is loneliness. This is a big issue that can impact the morale of an employee and make them feel isolated from the rest of the company culture. Managers can combat loneliness in remote workers by checking in and scheduling in office meet in days.
Collaborating- The second biggest issue that the State of Work found was collaborating with other employees on a team. When dealing with multiple remote workers working on different schedules wires can get crossed when communication is poor. It is up to management to ensure that a remote team is working cohesively together, but independently from one another as to ensure maximum productivity. This can be accomplished by divvying up work among team members to ensure that constant communication shouldn’t be necessary.
The office is evolving, and businesses need to adapt to the growing needs of their employees. By staying ahead of the trend and learning to better manage remote employees, employers can begin to take steps towards the office of the future.
Need help managing remote workers? Having trouble keeping your remote workers engaged and productive? SolveHR offers custom-tailored strategic HR solutions to help you manage your remote workers wherever they are in the world. Contact us today to find out how we can help you build a better team, so you can focus on what matters—growing your business!