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A recent report released by OddsMonkey have forecasted that 50% of the workforce will work remotely by 2020.

 

Time is ticking, and most companies are unprepared to support a virtual workforce.  In fact, TotalJobs research has shown that 35% of UK workers are not even given the option to work remotely.

Their research also found that:

  • 45% of millennials would move jobs if remote working was not an option (they are set to comprise 50% of the UK workforce by 2020).
  • Only one in ten employees agree they are happier working in an office environment.
  • 24% of employers say that remote working helps reduce staff leave.

These studies highlight the importance for organisations to embrace remote working.  It will soon be the only way to attract the best talent and keep them.

 

But, will remote working work for us?

 

Some jobs simply don’t lend themselves to remote working.  A surgeon, for example, can’t perform surgery over a video call or via email.  But for most organisations, remote working offers benefits for everyone.

For employees:

  • No time is wasted with a stressful commute
  • Increased productivity due to a lack of office distractions, more freedom an flexibility
  • A better work-life balance

For organisations:

  • The ability to attract the best talent rather than choosing the best out of nearby candidates
  • Less money spent on office running costs
  • A happier workforce (which typically leads to increased productivity)

 

Can I trust my remote workers to actually work?

 

When companies switch to a virtual way of working, trust is the most easily damaged element.

Ideally, all employees should be trusted – whether they are onsite or not.  But the freedom that remote working affords, often leads to some concerns for managers around trust and accountability.

A good place to start is by quashing some common myths with this video from VirtualPBX®.

Employee Monitoring

With the range of technology that surrounds us, monitoring employees is easy.  You can track the hours people work, their movements and even keep an eye on internal communications.

In short, technology unlocks the choice of what level of visibility you want to have.

However, employee monitoring can offer more benefits than just visibility of work-related movements.  For instance, time tracking software can enable you to record time spent on client projects thus, maximising billing.

 

WFH

 

The key to ensuring that it doesn’t lead to feelings of distrust, monitoring remote workers should be a blend of effective leadership and technology.  Remote monitoring policies should also be in place to create a culture of transparency and accountability.

 

Technology is the key to success

 

As a study by Regus highlights, technology is key to supporting remote working.  Their results show that  fast WiFi and providing efficient smartphones, should be the top priorities.

WFH

But, a problem for many companies who are new to remote working, is the use of unsanctioned communications platforms.  Free tools are at our fingertips but they do not always fall in-line with data privacy legislations, and are typically unreliable.

 

Technology maintains collaboration

 

In an earlier post, we explored how to avoid professional relationships from breaking down when team members are geographically spread out.

We found that thoughtful communication was imperative to maintaining a collaborative team culture.  But this relies on technology.   Specifically, the right technology like stable video conferencing tools and phone systems.

In addition to maintaining cohesion across virtual teams, technology:

  • Enhances business agility (if you can have a virtual meeting with your staff, you can also have it with customers)
  • Creates a better user experience (by offering a range of communication methods, users can gravitate to ones they are comfortable with)

Technology helps keep costs down

 

Running a virtual team may reduce office running costs, but you don’t want it inflating in another area.  That is why shopping around for the most suitable telecoms solution is so important.

For example, our business mobile service:

  • Monitors usage and includes a facility to auto bar
  • Works globally – for no extra charge
  • Gives you one bill to manage
  • Works with your preferred network (we have access to all of the main providers)

Taking the time to find the best technical solutions for your situation is crucial.  Otherwise, you run the risk of implementing a solution that your situation has to be adapted to, rather than a solution that can adapt to your situation.

 

Technology keeps you compliant

 

If the right systems, processes and infrastructure are not in place, you may be exposing yourself to hackers, breaking data privacy laws, and so on.

Since most communications and work will be carried out online, reliable network security is vital.

 

Harness the full range of communications technologies to make remote working, work.

 

What else can I do?

 

Good leadership, is good leadership – regardless of whether you are managing an onsite or virtual team.  There are many management techniques that work for both types of workforces – like, setting measurable targets.

However, leading a remote workforce does require a heightened awareness of some specific areas:

 

Remote teams may feel insecure of being kept ‘out of the loop’

If you typically have a ‘Monday Morning Meeting’ with the onsite team, be sure to  include remote workers in this too.

Given that remote team members are less likely to ‘bump into’ their colleagues and thus have casual conversations, managers should create deliberate opportunities for informal chats and catch-ups.

Communication is key.

 

Training and guidance is still important

Remote workers should have access to training opportunities and chances to ‘check-in’ with their bosses.  It sounds obvious, but the lack of face to face contact can sometimes lead to an out of sight, out of mind approach.

Implementing things like e-learning is a good way of giving everyone access to training.

 

Opportunities to meet in-person should be created

Beyond the annual Christmas Party, social gatherings or events like monthly progress meetings should be organised.  This helps to keep a momentum of face-to-face contact within a remote working culture.

 

* OddsMonkey report can be found here

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