Thanks to technology that enables us to work from anywhere at any time, many small business employers let team members telecommute. The option to work remotely routinely or even occasionally can be a great retention tool as it improves morale by providing employees a better work-life balance. Likewise, this attractive benefit may give your small business a competitive advantage when recruiting new talent. Moreover, by letting workers work remotely, growing your staff becomes easier because you don’t have worry about securing a larger office first.
Managing a remote workforce, however, may prove challenging to those used to monitoring an on-site staff. Without being able to see the work actually being done, leaders fear productivity will suffer. But with a few adjustments to their managerial approach, small business owners may find telecommuting raises their company to a new level of success. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Let results speak for themselves
Build trust by focusing more on what gets accomplished rather than exactly when it gets done. Micromanaging an off-site worker or trying to “catch” someone away from his desk wastes your valuable time and leads to employee resentment. Instead, come up with specific, measurable objectives. Monitor these goals to make sure they are being met consistently and on time. If all is fine, don’t worry that your telecommuter may be doing laundry while finishing an assignment.
Regular contact via email, phone, instant message, web conferences and the like enables small business owners and their remote workers to stay connected. Daily check-ins keep both sides up to date and clear on priorities. But also be sure to drive home the point that remote workers can contact you whenever a question arises or they need help. Without being able to see what you are doing, they may fear “interrupting,” which could lead to potential problems not being addressed.
Aim for inclusion
Remote workers who know how what they do off-site fits in to the overall plans for your small business will feel a sense of purpose, be more engaged and, as a result, likely perform better. That said, make sure you keep them in the loop about company activities and progress. Include them in brainstorming sessions, important meetings and staff surveys. And chat with remote workers about non-company matters from time to time to show that you care about them as individuals, not just as workers.
Remember to give feedback
All workers benefit from regular feedback on what they are doing right and how to improve areas of concern. Remote workers will know that you’re monitoring their performance and thinking about their contributions to the company when you routinely offer feedback. In addition to constructive comments, be sure to acknowledge hard work. Your appreciative words help to keep them motivated and assured that “out of sight” (or site, if you will) does not mean “out of mind.”
Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy.