Over half of all workers are re-thinking travel arrangements in 2017, according to new research. The survey, conducted among 1700 UK professionals, shows that 58% of workers are looking to ‘work remotely’.
Remote working is now a normal part of employment and something that most people expect from an employer. As a leader how can you prepare, nurture and succeed with a remote team?
Trust is key
Employees should be aware that telecommuting requires them to be just as productive and responsible as if they were working in the office.
Remote workers should be able to be 100% effective at the job from wherever they choose to work, if that isn’t the case then working remotely isn’t really a viable option for them.
Employees also need to feel that they are trusted to work from a remote location, if they don’t then it’s likely they’ll start to consider alternative employment.
Stay in contact
Just because a team is working from different locations doesn’t mean that communication should be effected.
Apps on employee’s phones, extensions for Chrome and IE and, what many people now forget – the phone, all provide a means by which to discuss projects, share ideas and provide progress to team members.
In many cases using the internet is a more efficient way to communicate as it enables not only audio but visual tools as well by which to collaborate and costs no more money than the internet charges already paid.
With all these tools available communication and collaboration should be more effective than ever before, whether local or remote.
Don’t compromise on expectations
If productivity can’t be maintained when working remotely then telecommuting isn’t an option.
Employees working away from the office should be made aware that as much is expected from them as those people working from the office.
Previously set objectives and targets should not be compromised for remote staff, however if required, can be amended without effecting productivity.
Working in different locations often means that employees also work alone. Encouraging and organising opportunities for your team to meet in person and socialise will help to maintain real relationships, not just ones in the digital world.
It’s also important that your team have the opportunity to socialise with the rest of the business to ensure that they stay up to date with new employees and changes in the office environment.
If your team are never seen by the rest of the business then they’ll simply be remembered as the empty chair where they used to sit. Employees need to meet and interact with each other in order to learn about different members personalities. This will help them to interact and work as a team even if they’re not all in the same office.
Setting ground rules for those employees telecommuting is an essential part of managing a successful team. Each employee should be aware of what is and isn’t appropriate when working away from the office, as they would when working within it.
Clarity will also make your team feel more comfortable and they’ll now what to do in certain situations rather than having to contact the office to check.
Tools of the trade
Organising equipment with your IT department and not leaving it to the individuals concerned will show that you’re actively enabling them to telecommute.
Sorting out everything they need will be appreciated by your team and also benefit you in their work output and efficiencies.
Revise and improve
As with anything new it’s important to discuss how all aspects of telecommuting are going with you team, topics that could be covered include:
- Are there any new tools required?
- Are there any solutions that don’t work and need changing?
- Are there any general difficulties being experienced by your team?
- Is there anything you as the leader can do to improve things?
- What does work and are all team members aware of it?
By openly and regularly discussing processes, successes and issues you’ll not only improve the way everyone’s able to work remotely but also your team cohesiveness and leadership skills.
*Office for National Statistics (UK)