Making Working Remotely Work
When I first entered the workforce, most of the job postings I saw that allowed you to work from home were either technology related or some type of pyramid scheme. Nowadays, however, faster connection speeds, better technology, a desire for more work/life balance, and proven productivity increases have made working from home commonplace in all types of industries.
With costs for office space rising, a lot of businesses are opting for at-home workers. And for those nonprofits that have never had the budget for a dedicated space, telecommuting is old news. But how can you make sure you’re encouraging accountability with your at-home workers? Or, if you’re working from home, how can you best manage your relationship with your coworkers and boss?
Here are few suggestions:
Schedule real interactions. If video conferencing is a possibility, either by FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangout, etc., it’s definitely good to do. A super plus if you can physically meet in person. If video isn’t doable, or it’s just not something you’re interested in, schedule weekly phone touch base discussions. These discussions should focus only on expectation level setting and project updates. Obviously you’ll be communicating about other things throughout the week, but it’s always a great idea to make sure expectations are met on both ends. Which leads me to my next point…
Over communicate. While this may seem a little annoying, it’s always best to keep in touch. This will eliminate any doubts about what someone is actually doing with their time. You should also end every day with a brief recap of what’s been accomplished that day and where things will be tomorrow. While this may not be something that always needs to be paid attention to, it’s certainly nice to have things documented.
Make sure you’re not overworking, or being overworked. Remote workers may often feel pressured to work harder to prove that they’re actually working and not just slacking off during the day. For those of us who do work in offices, I’m sure there have been plenty of days where accomplishments have been few and far between. However, when a work-from-home day happens, you feel pressured to accomplish more. Make sure you are setting realistic expectations for yourself and any remote workers the same as you would any of the office workers.
Create an engaging “work environment.” A few jobs ago, I had a lot of remote coworkers. Working for a large corporation has its perks sometimes (catered lunches, the boss bringing in donuts, cookies in team meetings, free coffee in the office kitchen, contests and fun meetings), but mostly for in-office workers. The company was constantly struggling with finding ways to make remote workers feel like they were a part of the team. Sending fun cards and packages a couple times a year, Google Hangouts for meetings, a daily “fun” email chain, or encouraging employees to attend workshops and conferences are just some of the things that can be relatively inexpensive, but majorly effective.
Are your employees remote? Are you remote? How are you managing your workforce? Do you think it’s as effective as being in an office? Let us know in the comments!