There’s no doubt about it – the future of work is ‘remote’. Whether you believe it or not, remote working isn’t just a trend encouraged by advances in technology and the millennial workforce, it is becoming a way of life for many employees.
In fact, 70 per cent of the Australian workforce already works remotely at some point during their work week. The lure of autonomy, flexibility, managing their own time and avoiding the work commute, make remote working a very appealing option for many employees.
At Biologi we offer the ability to work remotely for all of our employees, but understand that there will always be a few nuances that we need to work through. We are based in Byron Bay, yet have some employees that are based in Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast, and others based near our offices that still spend a lot of time working from home. Having a remote workforce means you also need to have flexibility in your management style. These are my top 5 tips that will allow you to successfully manage a remote workforce.
Trust your employees
We all know that trust is incredibly important in a workplace, not just for remote employees, but for the workforce as a whole. Yet in many cases having trust in employees (especially those that you don’t see often) can be easier said than done. A lack of trust however can feel stifling for an employee and effect productivity and engagement. A strong sense of trust is integral for positive staff morale and can have a myriad of benefits beyond staff feeling ‘happy’. Trust can allow employees to work more effective as a team, improve productivity and empower staff to make decisions and bring in new ideas. As an employer if trust is something that you struggle with, look at ways that you can improve it because the harsh truth is – if you don’t trust your employees, they won’t trust you.
Results not hours
Far too often employers get caught up in semantics, believing employees need to be chained to a desk all day fulfilling the hours of 9 to 5 (or more). However, when it comes to remote employees, the focus should be placed on the results achieved, not the number of hours worked. Be sure to set clear KPIs from the start so your employees know what is expected. Each employee needs to understand business and task goals so they have a benchmark they can work towards and can set about superseding it.
Every employee is different
Remote working is not for everyone so it is important to remember that every employee is different. Each employee and has different needs with regards to their working arrangements and as an employee, you need to know what these needs are. Whilst the lure of working from home, setting their own hours and having more flexibility in their lives can be appealing, remote working can also be incredibly lonely. There’s also the fact that it takes a high level of discipline to not only ensure the job gets done every day, but to also ensure that they’re able to switch off from the work too. So rather than offering remote working as a standard practice, tailor working arrangements to suit the needs of each employee. Understand what motivates them and set incentives in place to keep them motivated.
Treat everyone equally
If your business offers flexible working arrangements, it’s likely not everyone will want to choose the option of working from home. There will be those that enjoy coming into the office every day, those that split their time between work and home and then those that are working remotely full time. In all of these instances, it is incredibly important to treat all employees equally, making sure they know that they are an integral part of your business. With a diverse workforce, there should be no ‘us and them’ mentality because this can risk segregating employees and causing team silos. Instead, place an emphasis on treating everyone equally and look at ways that encourage inclusion for all.
Communication is key
An integral part of ensuring that remote working arrangements are successful, for both your employee and your business, is communication. Set guidelines for working arrangements, schedule in regular catch ups and use the technology available to keep the lines of communication open. Encourage employees to use enterprise software like Slack to make the flow seamless and keep conversations open and easy to follow. Ensure that your employees feel comfortable to speak up when there are issues and are always comfortable voicing any hesitations or fears they might have. The same goes on your end – openly encourage and praise employees when they are doing well and congratulate the team when they’re working effectively as a collective.