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Top 5 Ways to Manage Remote Employees

It’s a different world than it was 20 years ago. The Internet and advancing technology have created an increasingly digitalized and globalized workplace. More and more companies now have employees who telecommute at least part of the time. Others have an entirely virtual workforce. In order to pull this off successfully, it’s essential to properly manage remote employees.


1. Set Clear Expectations

All employees should understand what’s expected of them, but it’s especially important for virtual staff members. Considering that they’re not physically with you in your workplace, there is a stronger likelihood that they’ll get off track. Some key areas to cover include:

  • Daily tasks
  • Expected productivity and output
  • Top priorities
  • Company standards
  • Commitments
  • Performance metrics


2. Use Efficient Communication Tools

One of the biggest problems for employers are communication breakdowns. The potential for confusion and misunderstandings is automatically increased with a virtual working arrangement. Fortunately, there are a variety of communication tools that can bridge the gap and keep everyone on the same page. Some platforms to consider include:


3. Set Aside Time to Video Chat

It’s generally recognized that roughly 55 percent of communication is nonverbal and relies on body language. You can manage remote employees more effectively by making it a habit to video chat with them periodically. This doesn’t need to be every day or even every week, but regular chats should help improve communication. Besides Skype, there are other free alternatives like FaceTime and Google Hangouts.


4. Track Their Progress

Since you’re not working together in the same office, it’s a little trickier to see how a remote employee is coming along with a project. Are they staying on track or have they fallen behind? You need an efficient way to check in on them to see their progress. A tool like HiveDesk is perfect for this. It allows you to see when remote employees check in and out and monitor their efficiency. It will even capture screenshots to gauge their productivity.


5. Create a Sense of Team Unity

Even though you and your employees may never actually see each other face-to-face, it doesn’t mean you can’t establish camaraderie. This is important because building rapport can facilitate better collaboration, instill a sense of loyalty and help you retain your top workers. Some ways to create team unity is to send out company-wide newsletters and use team messaging apps (like Slack). You may even want to set up a digital hub like a forum where team members can communicate and share their thoughts and opinions.

The concept of telecommuting is spreading like wildfire and is only going to increase as we move deeper into the 21st century. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2015, 23 percent of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19 percent in 2003.” As an employer, it’s vital that you understand how to effectively manage remote employees. These five strategies should enable you to build stronger relationships, improve communication and get the most out of your virtual team.



Should Your Business Offer Flexible Scheduling?

Flexible scheduling has gained considerable momentum over the past few years. This shift is largely due to the high volume of millennials entering the workforce who view things much differently than the baby boomers who are leaving. Does flexible scheduling make sense for your business?


A New Labor Force

There has been a significant shift in terms of age demographics in the labor force. Millennials (people born roughly between 1980 – 1995) now account for a sizable portion of the workforce. The Pew Research Center reports, “There were 53.5 million millennials in the workforce in 2015 even eclipsing Gen Xers at 52.7 million.”

Why is this important?

Millennials think differently than most of their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts. Many millennials crave a healthy work-life balance and value flexible scheduling. According to a study from Bentley University, “77 percent of millennials say flexible work hours would make them more productive at work.”

Another study from PwC found:

  • 64 percent of millennials would like to occasionally work from home
  • 66 of millennials would like to shift their work hours
  • 15 percent of male employees say they would give up some of their pay and slow the pace of promotion in exchange for working fewer hours
  • 21 percent of female employees say the same


In short, flexible scheduling is something that appeals to most millennials. With Bentley University reporting, “By 2025, millennials will make up as much as 75 percent of the global workforce,” flexible scheduling is at least something to consider. This could serve as a valuable recruiting tool and is likely to reduce employee turnover — something that’s very costly.


Other Benefits

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are several other advantages to offering flexible work schedules. One advantage is lower overhead costs. When employees telecommute even part of the time, it reduces expenses like utilities, office equipment, paper consumption and more.

There also appears to be a correlation between flexible scheduling and lower absenteeism and tardiness. When employees are able to address their personal needs and work around their families, there’s a tendency to show up on time and be more fully engaged. Many employers have even found that their employees use less of their sick days.

Besides this, flexible scheduling often boosts job satisfaction and overall employee morale. When workers are empowered to structure their work schedules in accordance with their personal needs, it’s only natural that they’ll be happier.


Software and Apps

One reason many employers are reluctant to embrace this working arrangement is the fear that communication will break down and output will suffer. Fortunately, there are a myriad of software platforms and apps available that make for seamless telecommuting. They enable you to manage your employees just as effectively as if they were physically in the workplace. Check out Inc.com for tools you can use to manage a remote team.

As Bob Dylan would say, “The times they are a changin’.” The millennial generation has brought with it new ideas on what constitutes a well-run workplace. While flexible scheduling doesn’t make sense for every business, it’s definitely something to consider and can make your company more competitive on many levels.

Pros and Cons of Employing Telecommuters

Technology is more pervasive than ever and now gives businesses options that might have been inconceivable only a decade ago. Technology has changed the modern working arrangement by creating the option for employees to telecommute and perform many tasks remotely. What are the pros and cons of employing telecommuters, and does it make sense for your business?


What is Telecommuting?

The Business Dictionary website formally defines telecommuting as “A substitution of telecommunications for transportation in a decentralized and flexible work arrangement which allows part or full-time employees to work at home via a computer attached to the employer’s data network.”

In other words, employees can work from a remote location and perform their duties just as they would if working from a brick and mortar environment. While there may have been inherent limitations to this working arrangement in the past, technological advancements and an increasingly globalized workforce have made telecommuting a completely viable option for many of today’s businesses.


Relevant Statistics

The Global Workplace Analytics website provides statistics to give perspective on the current state of telecommuting:

  • Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005.
  • 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
  • The employee population as a whole grew by 1.9% from 2013 to 2014, while the employee telecommuter population grew 5.6%.

These stats clearly indicate that telecommuting is on the rise and is a trend that’s likely to continue.


The Pros of Employing Telecommuters

  • Aids in Recruiting – With tech-savvy millennials accounting for a significant portion of the workforce, offering telecommuting options can be a major selling point when recruiting. Because many younger workers value a healthy work-life balance, allowing them to telecommute at least a portion of the time can make your company more appealing than competitors who do not.
  • Higher Productivity – When employees work remotely, it eliminates several productivity killing habits such as water cooler gossip, colleagues being distracting and spur-of-the-moment meetings. In turn, employees can focus wholly on their tasks.
  • Lower Overhead Costs – According to data from Talent Culture’s website, a typical employer saves $11,000 per person annually even if they only telecommute half of the time. This is primarily due to the diminished need for computers, phones, paper and so on.
  • Increased Retention – Research found on Telework! VA’s website states that teleworking “Decreases employee turnover by 20 percent,” which is likely due to the healthy work-life balance it creates.


The Cons

  • Potential for Disconnect – Relationships and team chemistry are often considered important parts of running a successful company. When employees work remotely, it could potentially create a disconnect that takes a toll on your company culture.
  • Potential for Misunderstandings – No matter how well organized or efficient your communication system is, the odds of misunderstandings increases considerably when there’s no face-to-face interaction.
  • Inability to Closely Monitor Employees – It can be tempting for employees to slack and not give as much effort as they would when management is directly observing them.
  • Security Issues – Sharing sensitive data can lead to complications because you don’t have the same level of control when information leaves the relative safety of your company’s immediate network.


Employing telecommuters is an option that you should definitely take into consideration if you haven’t done so already. Weighing the pros and cons should help you see it in an objective light and determine whether or not it’s right for your business.


The Pros and Cons of Hiring Remote Workers

Due to advances in technology, a more globalized workforce and several other factors, more and more employers are hiring remote workers who telecommute when performing their job duties. In fact, statistics from the American Community Survey estimated that telecommuting has risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012 and now makes up 2.6 percent of the American work force, or 3.2 million workers. If you’re thinking of going this route, here are some pros and cons to better determine if it’s right for your company.


The Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers

  • Increased Flexibility – When you’ve got employees scattered throughout the country or the world, you can pick and choose exactly who you want for a job. Rather than having to employ someone on an ongoing basis, you can go on a project-by-project basis and not get locked into a long-term commitment. This is nice because you can find one person who specializes in a particular area and another person who’s an expert in another area. Not only does this make your life more convenient, but it can be a productivity booster as well.
  • Low Costs – By hiring remote workers, you can usually expect to reduce your overhead costs. Because these employees don’t work from a brick and mortar establishment, you can save on rent, utilities, etc. If you hire independent contractors as opposed to traditional employees, you can save on benefits. And if you hire individuals from developing countries, you can also minimize your hourly rates as well.
  • Access to Top Talent – When you’re limited to employing workers in your immediate area, it’s inevitably going to reduce your talent pool. Even if you live in a large metropolitan area, you’ll still only have access to a fraction of the talent that you would when hiring remotely. By allowing workers to telecommute, you can find the perfect person for a job regardless of their location.


The Drawbacks of Hiring Remote Workers

  • Communication and Collaboration Can Suffer – Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that you simply can’t communicate on the same level remotely that you can in person. When you collaborate over the Internet through email or a messenger, it can lead to miscommunications, and you may not always been on the same page with workers. In some cases, you may also run into language barriers if employing workers in other countries. In turn, this can create complications and delays.
  • Potential Time Zone Conflicts – While this probably won’t be a big issue if employees are in the same country, it can be problematic if they’re on the other side of the world. Say you needed to send an urgent message, a worker might not receive it and be able to respond for several hours if you’re multiple time zones apart.


Overall Consensus

Although hiring remote workers isn’t right for all business owners, it definitely makes sense for many. It really just depends on your specific situation and needs. Examining the pros and cons of this hiring move should help you decide if it’s right for your company.