Remote Employees | 12 mins read

Everything You Need to Know About Remote Employees

everything you need to know about remote employees
Lauren Christiansen

By Lauren Christiansen

What is Remote Work?

Remote work is defined as any employee who works outside of a traditional office. It is founded on the principle that a worker should not be confined to one particular work environment to meet key performance objectives.

There are many reasons for employing remote teams. Employee time tracking software and other business intelligence solutions allow organizations to monitor employee performance and encourage collaboration without forcing anyone to be in the office.

Because it is not always necessary for an employee to perform his/her job on-site, companies across the United States have saved money by opting for the remote work path. On the employee end of the spectrum, it provides more work life balance and saves money on commuting. As long as key objectives are met, both the business and worker benefit from the arrangement.

  • By 2025, 22% of the workforce will be working remotely
  • The Coronavirus has caused an 87% increase in remote work
  • 27% of remote workers said that working from home is so important to them that they would take a 10-20% pay cut to maintain the remote option

The Benefits of Remote Work

Over the years, more companies have chosen to minimize the number of on-site workers. Evidence has demonstrated that the quality of work done at home is equivalent to or better than the quality of on-site work.

Employees working from home tend to maintain higher effectiveness and efficiency, while saving organizations thousands of dollars. Remote work provides numerous other advantages to companies and their workers. including-

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1. Increased Productivity

Though some may think employees would be less productive when they work remotely, research has shown otherwise. Research demonstrates that employees get more productive when working remotely as opposed to those who are on-site every day.

This is linked to the autonomy that remote workers appreciate in their work life, resulting in less on-site distractions and greater liberty to work when they feel most productive.

2. More Diverse Workplace

Without the geographical obstacles that prevent recruiters from finding the best new hires, businesses are no longer limited when it comes to choosing the right candidates.

Hiring is also easier because most interviews can be performed over video conferences and confirmed through email. This optimizes the entire recruiting process, it can help remote workers be suited for their roles, and it eliminates the barriers that prevent a diverse workplace.

Lowered Costs

Remote-enabled businesses minimize expenses associated with operating on-site. They no longer need to spend money on employee travel, bigger offices, on-site computers, or other materials.

Experts confirm that one business saves approximately 11,000 for each employee that is on-site half of the time. Businesses often require employees to work from home part of the time to exploit cost savings opportunities without entirely altering the company structure or eliminating on-site activities.

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Try it free for 14 days.

The Challenges of Remote Work

Though remote work offers several advantages to an organization, some difficulties come from trying to optimize remote team building and monitor productivity. Remote employees feel isolated at times, some have difficulty staying motivated, and companies often struggle to address these challenges.

Because remote work is essentially the new normal, organizations should be aware of these challenges and make sure to use strategies to mitigate them. Remote employees need to be properly managed, valued, and appreciated to stay productive. Managing a remote workforce requires accommodating these needs and mitigating other bottlenecks, which include -

1. Communication Bottlenecks

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Effective business communication is the glue that holds an organization intact. Without a system in place to monitor the progress of business activities and the people involved in them, it can be more difficult to complete business processes.

This is particularly challenging for companies that are new to remote work and are used to on-site collaboration. One way to mitigate this is to create a space that is devoted to team communication, such as Slack or another messaging software system.

A help center, forum, or social media page is also another way for workers to share expertise and ask/answer questions. Weekly video-conference meetings with team members can be another way for everyone to address problems and check in on other members' progress.

2. Difficulty Tracking Performance

Though remote employees do tend to be more productive in a home office, it can be more difficult to track performance and monitor activities. It's difficult to know for certain whether an employee is pulling their weight without a manager present to watch them.

Possible solutions include automated software solutions that can help track employee time, manage a workflow from start to finish, and alert management with any updates. Other solutions include establishing a set of KPIs every day and then tracking employee progress towards achieving those goals.

3. Challenge to Build Teams

It's easier to make people feel connected to a team when they are on-site. Though weekly meetings and frequent emails can help remind a remote worker that there are other team members out there, it isn't quite the same as seeing coworkers in person.

Employers can create a company culture for remote workers, but it takes a bit more planning than usual. Give remote workers an open-door communication policy with management, have more regular video conference calls and generate employee profiles to help workers put names to faces. Host monthly in-person mandatory meetings if possible to build up team morale and worker accountability.

How to Manage a Remote Team

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Because remote work comes with some challenges, businesses should know how to properly manage remote employees. Establishing best practices to support remote work can help avoid common mistakes that result in a decrease in productivity, wasted time, and money. Best practices for managing a remote team include-

  • Using Small Talk and Check Ins - Instead of just focusing on the business process at hand when speaking to remote workers, managers should ask employees how their day is and what challenges they have faced. This can help employees feel connected to every member of the team.
  • Taking Advantage of Video Conferencing - Utilizing visual cues to determine what someone is thinking is how relationships are built. Video calls can help put names to faces, infer someone's emotions, and present opportunities for problem-solving.
  • Scheduling One-On-Ones - Employees need to feel valued and essential to the team to be productive. Each remote worker should speak with a superior alone for an hour. This can be a time to address a specific problem, discuss the worker's progress, and gain some feedback.
  • Asking for Feedback - Ask specific questions to a remote worker, such as what the benefits of working from home are or how employers could best support him/her. This can help to pinpoint problems so management can correct them and enhance the work-from-home experience in the future.
  • Making Accommodations - If employing people from different time zones, try to schedule important meetings at a time that is convenient for everyone.
  • Utilizing Communication Software - Brainstorming ideas and completing business tasks should be easy for those who work remote. Use Slack, digital whiteboards, or other communication tools to optimize idea-sharing.

How to Engage Your Team Remotely

One of the biggest challenges facing remote-based employers is discerning how to optimize employee engagement.

Because remote workers are alone, many of them feel isolated, separate from the workforce, and a small part of a machine that doesn't care about them. This can result in decreased productivity and a higher turnover rate. Ensuring workers are content, productive, and engaged requires using several techniques, including-

1. Improve the Remote Onboarding Process

Managers should try to make the onboarding experience as interactive as possible so remote employees remember who they are working for and why. Team members should be taught about the company mission, who the key players are, what expectations exist, and who they will be working with every day.

Long-lasting connections create a powerful and motivated workforce that results in a lower turnover rate and increased employee morale.

2. Consider a Communal Workspace

Organizations that can afford to should purchase a shared office space for remote workers to connect and collaborate. This can provide team members with a sense of community and offer an alternative outlet if a worker wants to leave the house.

This is much less expensive than renting out a larger office space for the on-site worker but still a great method to optimize employee engagement.

3. Assign Customized Responsibilities

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Assigning responsibilities to each worker can help everyone feel valued and essential to achieving the overall goals of the organization.

Instead of treating remote service workers as parts of a larger machine, pinpoint individual talent and use it accordingly. This can also help management see who should be promoted, who takes advantage of remote work, and who needs further monitoring.

4. Track Employee Engagement

Utilize survey tools or questionnaires to assess how engaged remote workers are with their jobs. Many organizations allow an employee to give the company a performance rating, offer insight about problem areas, and do so anonymously.

This can help management track remote worker satisfaction over time, pinpoint inefficiencies, and improve problem areas for future workers. Management should make certain to take the feedback from these surveys seriously so remote workers feel valued and appreciated.

Properly Tracking Remote Employees

Tracking employee productivity and ensuring everyone is achieving their KPIs is one of the bigger challenges facing remote-based employers.

Though some businesses monitor laptops and desk-work time, others find these techniques to be intrusive and counterproductive. Moreover, micromanaging remote workers can be timely and result in stifled employee creativity. More modern and transparent solutions include-

1. Set Workflow Deadlines

Structure workflows by assigning tasks with deadlines using an optimized software solution. This can help to break down tasks into different parts and monitor the length it takes to complete each portion.

Management can use these insights to pinpoint inefficiencies and see which portions are taking the longest. Team leaders should make certain that workers know the full scope of assigned activities to optimize collaboration and ensure timely completion.

2. Monitor Activity Regularly

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Organizations should streamline workflows by communicating expectations clearly and asking for regular feedback. Once business processes are structured, managers should discuss all required activities with remote workers and what is needed from each member to complete them.

Task management software can break up workflows into separate units and assign each one to a team member. Managers are notified when a workflow is complete.

3. Set Rules and Procedures

Instead of tracking internet activity and time spent at the desk, set policies and procedures to follow. Let remote workers know that they are expected to complete a specific amount of work in a day/week, and make certain they are aware of the consequences if they don't.

Setting rules and procedures rather than hovering over every worker's move is a much better system for managing remote employees. If team members repeatedly fail to meet KPIs, then the employer can implement more stringent measures to measure performance.

4. Use Time Tracking Software

Time tracking software allows workers to clock in and out every day so management doesn't have to track time. There are biometric options available, which ensures the correct person is clocking in by using a human trait to verify identity.

Managers won't have to worry about configuring timesheets or taking an employee's word for hours worked. Furthermore, it makes it much simpler for Human Resources to perform payroll, as most time tracking software integrates with accounting software.

How Remote Work Saves Money

Here are some of the top ways that remote work can save an employer money -

  • Lower Turnover Rate - Remote workers tend to be more satisfied than on-site workers, which boosts workforce morale. This leads to a lower turnover rate, which saves money on hiring costs.
  • Real Estate Savings - Organizations spend much less money on real estate when employees take advantage of part time or full time remote work options.
  • Minimizes Lawsuits - Businesses that employ remote workers have minimal incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination, or other workplace problems.
  • Decreases Excessive Meetings - When people work remote, they utilize communication software more frequently, which minimizes the need for costly in-person meetings. Web-based meetings are more likely to stay on topic and tend to be more productive.
  • Decreases Absenteeism - Remote workers are less likely to take a sick day or engage in unplanned absences. Because absenteeism can cost an organization thousands of dollars a year, remote work is often used to mitigate these expenses.
  • Increases Productivity - Remote work makes it easier to collaborate and complete tasks with others, regardless of location. This eliminates the barriers caused by on-site work and increases productivity, which improves the quality of output.

Key Takeaways

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In conclusion, here are the key takeaways to remember about how employers effectively manage remote work

  • Best practices for remote-based employers include using small talk, taking advantage of video, scheduling one-on-ones, making accommodations, using communication software systems, and asking for feedback.
  • Remote worker engagement can be optimized by improving the onboarding process, purchasing a communal workspace, and tracking employee engagement.
  • To track remote employees work effectively, use an optimized time tracking software system, set workflow deadlines, monitor activity regularly, and set rules and procedures.
  • Remote work saves money by lowering the turnover rate, saving money in real estate costs, minimizing lawsuits, decreasing wasted in-person meetings, and decreasing absenteeism. Working remotely tends to increase productivity, which contributes to a higher quality and quantity of output.

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