Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, and 44% of employed Australians access the internet for home-based work. Candidates will take also flexible work arrangements into consideration when deciding whether or not to work for your company. In fact, when it comes to negotiating job offers, flexible work is one of the most commonly requested benefits, other than higher pay and additional training opportunities.
Yet, there are also challenges associated with remote work. A workplace survey by the Australian Human Resources Institute reveals that 65% of the respondents experience difficulties when communicating with colleagues. Other disadvantages of remote work include loneliness, isolation and technology challenges for remote workers.
How can you make the most of telecommuting without letting these challenges drag you down? Treat flexible work as a business strategy and not just a nice incentive for your employees.
Don't expect your remote workers to be able to do their job immediately on their own. Yes, they can probably figure things out, but it can take a lot of hours, frustration and misunderstanding. It's a much better way to start your working relationship by training them thoroughly on their role in the company, your expectations and the technology they'll be using.
Provide training for those who manage remote workers, too. Currently only 44% of senior managers receive specialised training on how to supervise a remote workforce. Managers need to learn not only new communication skills, but also how to apply technology to create the best outcomes.
You're probably already setting up your remote employees with the right tools to get the job done, but it's equally important to have communication technology in place to ensure that your remote workers are part of the team. Equip both your office and your remote worker with chat software, conferencing and meeting devices.
When your employees are working remotely, it's easy to assume that you only need to contact them when the need arises, but communication is not just about the work being done. It's also about building a team and making everyone feel that they belong. That's why it's important to have a system for communicating with your remote employees and schedule your communication so that it actually happens.
Invite your remote workers to the team meetings, either in person or as a virtual presence. Remember to send emails with summaries of events that your employees have missed. When someone is collecting ideas or trying to solve a problem, make sure they reach out to the remote workers, too. Not only you'll have a better chance of finding a solution, but your team members will feel valued and included.
Keep these tips and strategies for telecommuting in mind when working with recruitment agencies to find new talent and employees.