Technology has usurped the traditional workforce, truly transforming the way in which business conducts itself. The modern work environment faces a new dynamic; many businesses are working with telecommuters rather than employees in a traditional office setting. Whereas meetings were once conducted in a boardroom, technology has allowed businesses to meet in coffee shops, on the couch, and even on the go.
While this new type of workforce is both less expensive and more convenient, it certainly does propose problems. From technology failures to unreliable workers, there are a myriad of problems facing telecommuter business owners. Here are four tips on how to lead a successful remote workforce team:
1. It’s About Expectations
One of the most important aspects to managing remote staffers is to set clear expectations. An office setting allows for a boss to recognize who’s pulling their fair share of the weight, and who’s slacking. But in a telecommute situation, keeping tabs on employees is much more difficult, which is why it is crucial to set expectations and detail consequences if those expectations are not met.
Communicate to employees when you expect them to be available via phone, text, email, etc. Many business owners utilize online employee scheduling software, which allows them to communicate effectively with their team by clearly detailing when employees need to be technologically present.
Additionally, be sure to detail what type of output is expected of each employee. This makes it far easier to measure your employees’ work ethic.
2. Be Available
As you have expectations for your employees, they will have expectations of you. You cannot necessarily hold them accountable for a lack of output if they cannot reach you to ask for advice, help, or an “okay” to continue.
Have an online “open door” policy, meaning that you are available via email, via phone, or via chat during most peak work hours. If you are unable to be online consistently, make it a habit to frequently check your email, texts, and other forms of communication in order to offer your staff the leadership they need.
3. Use Technology
In order for a remote workforce to work smoothly, utilize the tools available to you. Using email to send and receive documents and delegate tasks can get chaotic. Rather, use email only as a form of communication, and set up an online cloud account, such as Dropbox, to house all files, documents, and work projects. Using cloud storage allows each member of the team access to the documents, where they can easily collaborate and edit projects. Likewise, there are plenty of other online resources and apps that can help keep your team and business organized.
4. Trust Your Team
If you were responsible in your hiring, and took references into account, chances are you have a strong, reliable team. Trust your team to do their best and work their hardest. Part of what makes telecommuting fantastic is the flexibility of the schedule. As such, learn to be flexible with your team.
While a remote workforce does require a different set of managing skills, with strong leadership, a telecommuting business can be widely successful.