Telecommuters Need to Stay In the Loop
Regular communication is key to a successful and positive business environment. Open channels of communication maintain morale by promoting a sense of inclusion, as well as generating opportunities for team members of diverse backgrounds and talents to offer input on one another's projects. Technology provides a number of ways to keep telecommuters in the loop, such as shared email folders, networking media, project-oriented computer software, and videoconferencing. Utilize communication technology to create a virtual space where employees can interact productively with one another.
Goals Help to Create a Team Mindset
Telecommuting employees should understand their place in the larger business endeavor, both individually and as a group. Create and share specific plans and goals that recognize all parties involved. If you manage both in-house and remote employees, clarify the specific outcomes expected from each team as well as the relationship between their respective contributions. A well-defined sense of purpose helps to maintain focus and creates a sense of identity that is linked to collaboration.
Remote Employees Should Still Be Monitored
Monitoring and evaluating the work productivity of employees may sound tricky when you don't share a physical office space with them. In fact, very similar strategies can be used to maintain careful oversight of your telecommuters. Goals or quotas can be agreed upon and used to measure output. Emails, reports, sales numbers, and customer ratings are all examples of deliverables that can be monitored virtually and evaluated for quantity and quality. Regular feedback will reassure telecommuters that coaching from their supervisor is still in effect.
IT Expertise and Support Must be Readily Available
Telecommuters' home computers may not always be at the cutting edge of technology. Even when they are, software can be buggy. The longer remote employees cannot access their tools and networks, the longer their productivity is stopped or restricted. As a manager, you should equip telecommuters with troubleshooting checklists that will enable them to rule out the most obvious problems, and provide a list of technical support contacts for further issues. In addition, be sure the telecommuters are accessing data and communicating with co-workers through a properly secured and fully supported technological platform.
Managing telecommuters may demand some extra effort on your part to foster an inclusive team environment, and it may require different methods of communication and evaluation than in a traditional office, but the underlying principles of management are the same. If you review the four points listed above and incorporate them into your management strategy, you should be well grounded to face any future challenges.