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20 years ago, telecommuting wasn’t possible. The technology wasn’t there and there was a long standing 8 hour work day status quo. Now that all of these paradigms are shifting, telecommuting becomes a more attractive option.
It’s no doubt that telecommuting greatly benefits an employee. Whether it’s a permanent arrangement or just a few days a month, it’s great not dealing with a rough commute. Especially with a niche type of company, your best employee candidates may not live or want to live close enough to easily commute to your place of work. By offering telecommuting as an option for these employees, it allows you to have the best person available.
However, some employees find it hard to keep up with people who are in office. You as a manager can definitely help remedy this problem by actively engaging your telecommuting employees.
Here are 6 tips that you should consider when engaging employees who telecommute:
1. Check In.
Just because they work from home does not mean you should take on the old ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach. Depending on the size of your company you may want to have one manager who is assigned to supervise only remote workers. If you are a smaller business, you can adopt a commitment-based management style.
With this, you engage and contact your employees just as much as you would if they were in the office. Telecommuters need to be held accountable for meeting the commitments that they have made to the organization and fulfilling their duties just as they would if they came in to work every day.
2. Collaboration Opportunities.
Chris who works for a large national health care company says that, “Each quarter we have our CEO provide an all-employee meeting that can be accessed through video conferencing. The Head of our Business Segment does the same as does our Region Head. In addition to that we have monthly staff meetings that we can attend via conference call or in person.”
As a manager, there are many things you can do to promote collaboration among telecommuters and office workers:
- Having a Chat function available for instant conversation between employees
- A telecommuter and office working being paired up so the telecommuter isn’t left out of big office wide decisions
- Providing communal desks for when telecommuters do decide to come in, they have a place to work efficiently
3. Technology Updates.
With so many great updates on technology in the recent years, managing the virtual workforce is much easier. Telecommuters should have full access to the intranet as well as any other software that your company uses. Video conferencing and chat functions are a great way to keep up with the progress that telecommuters are making with their work.
Office workers who also work from home on some days should be able to access their work desktops from a remote desktop connection on their home computer. This makes the transition from office work to telecommuting much smoother and more productive.
4. Include them.
Make sure that telecommuters know about all weekly meetings, office socializing and any other things that you may be doing as a group. You want to make them feel included in all aspects of the company. This gives them a sense of connection and ownership to the company which usually results in better and more productive work.
5. Coaching and Mentorship.
Be available to your telecommuters for all of their questions and concerns. Just because you don’t run into them in the office doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reach out and provide an informal setting to advise and coach them through any difficulties they may be having.
One way you could do this is by having a quarterly informal review just to catch up on what they have done overall and what they see themselves working on in the future.
6. Recognize Achievements.
Look to the quality of an employees work to recognize progression in the company. Many managers overlook how much work successful telecommuters do because they don’t have as much face time with them. This should be known as the company standard, the more progress you make in your current the job the greater the chance you have for professional advancement.
To this end, managers should develop new ways to reward telecommuters in general because conventional incentive usually consists of physical things such as a good parking space or a larger office.
If you have had other successes in engaging remote workers please share them with us on Twitter: @_Vocoli
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