The remote work debate continues despite evidence proving that—when managed correctly, it can increase productivity, worker engagement and morale. According to Global Workplace Analytics, more than 60% of employers that allow remote work report increases in productivity among telecommuters.
37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted1, which is slightly higher than 30% cited for last decade, but four times greater than the 9% found in 1995. Since telecommunicating will continue to rise, your team of employee engagement experts at Dale Carnegie training recommend these tips to help improve the productivity of remote workers.
Share schedules. While one of the benefits of telecommunicating is that workers take fewer sick days and return to work sooner after an illness, scheduling meetings even when everyone is healthy can be extremely challenging. Instead of juggling everyone’s availability via emails and texts to find an opportune time for a face-to-face meeting or conference call, implement shared calendars.
Google calendars, for example, are completely free and allow users to authorize access of colleagues to view their schedules. There are privacy and visibility settings so that an employee is not forced to share her entire schedule with the team. It’s easy to find a meeting date and time when everyone is free by entering the meeting participants’ names because their calendars are reconciled so that opportune times clearly appear. You can include a meeting agenda or report to review when sending the meeting invitation so that everyone is prepared.
Collaborate virtually. At Dale Carnegie Training, we believe there is no substitute for face-to-face communication. The latest and greatest online conferencing tools enable remote employees to collaborate virtually and are equipped with many bells and whistles. Here are a few examples:
Desktop sharing enables meeting participants to see what is on the presenter’s screen. Whether presenting fourth quarter sales goals or the last quality assurance report, rest assured that everyone will clearly see the information being presented.
Text chat allows presenters and participants to chat privately or among the entire group. This is particularly helpful when participants have questions and comments.
Video Conferencing enables presenters to stream their live presentations so that everyone can view it in real-time. If all participants are equipped with webcams, most video conferencing tools will stream their video as well for a true virtual collaboration session.
Measure performance instead of presence. Don’t assume that remote employees will keep the same hours as their office-bound colleagues. While it is important to know their availability to ensure they can attend meetings, it is important to allow for their flexibility. Workers are often in different time zones and know their peak performance time. For example, if an employee works best early in the morning until mid-afternoon, allow her that freedom as long as she is available for one-on-one and team meetings. Managing remote workers requires a significant level of trust, so focus on whether or not the work is getting done, not when the worker is online or available to chat.