Managing Remote Employees: The Keys To Success

By Leslie Zieren, The McCalmon Group, Inc.

A recent analysis of census statistics reveals that the U.S. has seen a 159 percent increase in telecommuting between 2005 and 2017. Many may not be surprised by this statistic. Organizations that can utilize remote employees usually find the flexibility results in a more productive worker and contributes to better retention and recruiting.

 

The concern for many employers, however, is how best to manage the remote employee. Several workplace experts offer useful suggestions to make the most of your telecommuters.

 

Employers need to begin with providing the employee with quality tools (ex. phones, headphones, computers, monitors, and video-conferencing software); a plan for onboarding; and a work system that includes defined expectations, a reasonable workload, and a results-based approach to oversight.

 

Effective communication is absolutely essential to successfully managing a remote employee. Although managers should avoid micro-managing, continual communication will foster team building, allow you to gain feedback from employees, and provide opportunities for correction. Schedule regular calls or video chats to be sure both manager and employee are on the same track.

 

Consider establishing an online virtual office where employees can share thoughts and ideas, and everyone has a place to store and share documents. It can be valuable to have a place where employees can maintain an ongoing conversation, whether it be to contribute to a project or just offer a coworker thanks and congratulations for a job well done.

 

By employing managers who are strong communicators and by remaining flexible with remote employees, organizations can take full advantage of the benefits of telecommuting. N.F. Mendoza "Best Practices: The top 13 ways to manage remote employees" www.techrepublic.com (Dec. 09, 2019).

 

Commentary

 

There are risks to consider regarding telecommuting employees.

 

First, if you offer telecommuting for certain job positions, the benefit of telecommuting must be offered for everyone in those positions to avoid discrimination risk.

Second, make sure telecommuting employees keep up with required trainings. They may need to come to into the office for these trainings, as well as other important meetings.

Third, make sure their devices are kept secure from cyberthreats.

Fourth, make sure the home is safe for an employee, and check your worker's compensation coverage. In one case, an employee who worked from home and kept her office supplies in her garage tripped on an uneven floor while entering the garage to get some work materials during her work hours. The court allowed her worker's compensation claim because her home was her work premises and she was injured there in the scope and course of her employment.

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