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How does an employer manage remote (home) workers?

['Employee Relations']
How does an employer manage remote (home) workers?
  • There are tips to striking a balance when monitoring remote employees.

When it comes to supervising remote employees, out of sight should not mean out of mind. On the other hand, out of sight should not mean constant micromanaging, either. Some tips for managing remote workers, whether they are working from home every day or only occasionally, are:

  • Make sure they have the tools before they start.
    • Remote employees must have the equipment, software, and capabilities to effectively do the job. This means having the ability to:
      • Download and work on files and documents,
      • Call into meetings (and hear and be heard), and
      • Use whatever project management software is applicable. If the company uses intranet for communicating with employees, make sure remote workers can access it.
  • Set clear expectations.
    • What hours are employees expected to be available?
    • How often should employees check in?
    • Create hard deadlines on projects, as well as milestone dates to check progress on projects.
  • Have a communication strategy.
    • Decide if instant messaging should be used for situations that require immediate answers, or if emails are to be answered within 24 hours; and
    • Consider making video conferencing a weekly occurrence.
  • Focus on productivity, not activity.
    • If remote employees are reaching milestones, completing projects on time, and accomplishing goals, don’t worry about how many hours a day they are “logged in” to work on their devices.
  • Respond in a timely manner.
    • A remote worker’s question should be answered with the same urgency as the employee who pops into the office to ask it.
  • Send them some swag.
    • Remote workers will feel more connected if they have the same shirts, pens, mugs, etc. with the company logo as the in-house workers.
  • Build rapport.
    • Not that time should be wasted, but some light conversation unrelated to work projects can help employers get to know their remote employees better.
  • Consider their career development.
    • Don’t assume that because employees work remotely, they aren’t interested in opportunities that arise.
  • Be considerate.
    • When supervising remote employees in various locations, be considerate of any time zone differences when scheduling conference calls.
  • Get together in person occasionally, if possible.
    • If time, distance, and cost prevent in-person meetings, use video as much as possible. Much communication is non-verbal, and it’s helpful to be able to read facial expressions and body language some of the time.