This blog is the second installment of our series addressing the challenges of a remote workforce. In part one, we explored three major challenges managers of a remote workforce must overcome. If you haven’t yet, go back and read the first entry.
A remote workforce has its benefits, including access to a wider talent pool and eliminating expenses incurred from maintaining a local office. But sometimes the pros don’t seem to outweigh the cons. Below we will cover the solutions, which include tracking and managing productivity, resource management, and long-distance communication.
1. Tracking and Managing Productivity while Completing Business Goals
It’s very important to reduce distractions for productivity purposes, even in a “regular” office space. At home, the issue is compounded exponentially. Employers should help set up measures to ensure distractions don’t become an issue for remote workers. The right combination of monitoring tools and policies help address distractions in the workplace.
Before you make any plans for monitoring remote workers, we suggest researching your local laws regarding monitoring practices, as they can vary across the world. For the majority of states in the US, only computers owned by the employer can be monitored and personal computers require the consent of the owner.
Another way to reduce distractions is to set clear priorities. Setting priorities is a good idea because it organizes which goal should be achieved first. This is important for focusing energy on the right targets. According to HRACUITY, there are three main ways to ensure productivity for teams regardless of their location:
- First, the employer should help the employees understand how the company will operate. Setting priorities and expectations with a remote workforce is critical.
- Second, marking the progression of important goals within the company as well as at the individual level. This tracking helps maintain morale and engagement.
- Finally, Individual, company and departmental tasks have to be prioritized by importance and contribution towards company goals.
Software can help to connect the dots while tracking productivity for remote employees. is for an employer to block social media and other non-work related sites. Project management activity combined with computer, phone and meeting activity paint a clear picture of actual employee productivity.
2. Resource Management
Even if you don’t have a centralized office, remote employees still need appropriate equipment for their work environment.
Most remote employees, at the bare minimum should be offered a laptop or desktop with appropriate software installed. According to Corp.net, employers should also give people an allowance to buy equipment related to their job. As far as logistics are concerned, you may want to ship the device to your operations or IT department before the employee. You’ll want to install any administrative software needed to assist the employee remotely, should they run into any issues.
In addition to physical equipment, employers also tend to allow access to the company’s VPN, or Virtual Private Network in order to make working at home within the organization’s secure network possible. this is particularly true for those in the healthcare, finance, and legal sectors, as your team will be handling a lot of sensitive information.
Additionally, different departments need different tools. Your company has many licenses to various tools and softwares. As the proliferation of cloud and cloud applications continues to grow, companies are finding it incredibly difficult to catalogue the full spectrum of applications being used today. Understanding resource utilization to identify highly productive tools and unused licenses is key to managing costs. Maybe someone on your team found a free (or close to free)tool that makes them more productive than the $5k license you’re currently paying for.
Efficient resource utilization and management is key to managing productivity as well as costs.
3. Long-Distance Collaboration
Collaborating over long distances can be quite challenging, especially when working with a remote workforce. A major challenge is simply finding a time when everyone is awake. This can make it difficult to coordinate group meetings between teams on other sides of the planet.
GMT, which is London’s time zone outside of DST, is a useful marker for determining how far apart two time zones are. For instance, Austin Texas is GMT-6 outside of DST, and GMT-5 in DST, meaning sunrise in Austin generally occurs when London is in mid-afternoon.
Even if the office and remote employees are in different countries, arrangements should be made to interact face-to-face at least once a year. Studies suggest this should be done regularly and consistently, as it can help facilitate trust and build the relationship between the employee and their employer.
Chat and video conferencing technology is a staple for doing business today, and it’s critical for establishing a business relationship, especially when working with a remote workforce. Using video and instant messenger-like chat is important for efficient and effective team-building, problem solving, and collaboration with a remote workforce, because it dramatically reduces response times compared to email.
How to Solve Remote Workforce Management Problems
Though these three problems are significant, they can become less obstructive with the use of a remote workforce management tools. With the right tools, managers can make sure everyone is on task, workloads are manageable, and that everyone is all on the same page even when many hours apart. Ultimately, these challenges are easy to overcome if handled correctly.