In many workplaces across many different types of industries, the age-old dream of working from home is quickly becoming a reality for employees. With information systems allowing data to be shared and uploaded from remote locations, going to a physical place to work is often not necessary anymore. The benefits of allowing employees to work from home extend to employers as well as employee, as employers can limit or eliminate office space and save costs on everything from utilities to paper clips.
Managing remote employees is a little different than managing employees that are in front of you, however. It isn’t possible for you to see when an employee is struggling or slacking, so you need to make sure that systems are in place and the communication lines are open so that you can tell. It is also not possible for all employees to be productive from home, so it is important to make sure that there are precautions in place to ensure that work is getting done on time and correctly.
Establish Schedules or Hours in Advance
If clients often provide information and expect work to be completed on a nine to five schedule, it may be necessary to require employees to be available at these times. If the timing of work is not of particular importance but there are strict end-of-week deadlines, it may be helpful to require employees to work a certain number of hours per day so that work doesn’t get put off until the end of the week. In most scenarios, it is helpful for both the employee and employer to understand schedule expectations.
Clearly Define Goals and Expectations
Whether employees are paid by the job or by the hour, it is important to make sure that the goals and expectations for each day are understood. Without clearly defined daily expectations, remote employees may feel that they have ample time to catch up, so they may put themselves in a bad situation by procrastinating. This can spell disaster if deadlines are not met on time.
Be Flexible but Demanding
When you allow an employee to work from home, you are showing that employee that they have your trust to get the job done without having someone look over their shoulder. It is a mistake to be inflexible and make the employee worry that they don’t actually have your trust, and may affect the quality of the work that the employee does. Be demanding when it comes to having work done by a deadline, but be flexible within reason when it comes to how or when that work gets done.
Provide or Specify All Needed Tools
It is critical that remote employees have all the tools that they need to succeed. They can’t walk to another office to grab supplies or see what it is that they need to download to perform a task, so it is necessary to ensure that they have everything they need ahead of time. Whether you are providing software and supplies or the employee needs to acquire these things on their own, it is important that they know what they will need and have those items prior to their first work-from-home day.
Be Available and Check In Frequently
Even the most knowledgeable and autonomous employee is bound to have questions about some aspect of the job sometimes. It is important that you be available when they need to speak to you about questions or concerns. Since not every employee is the same when it comes to asking questions and expressing concerns, it is also important for you to check in frequently to make sure that they are comfortable and understand what is required.