In our digitally connected world, it has never been easier to employ staff remotely. Hiring remote workers offers a number of benefits for employers. These include reduced overheads and increased productivity. For candidates, remote positions offer improved flexibility and work-life balance. These mutual benefits mean that remote work opportunities have the potential to attract the best talent from all over the world.
However, remote hiring is not without its pitfalls. Like on-site employees, remote workers are vulnerable to drains on their productivity. Here are five ways to maximise productivity when employing remote workers.
1. Standardise your onboarding
Without a physical office, onboarding of new remote staff can be haphazard and unstructured. Give careful consideration to the experience of new starters, so that they are informed, engaged and enthused about your brand. Consider creating a video training program to streamline inductions. Ensure that your new staff know what is expected of them and who to turn to with any questions.
2. Communication is key
Choose the best methods of communication for the situation at hand. It’s great to use instant messaging apps like Slack, but make sure that the volume of messages is not distracting people from getting work done. Similarly, with email, long and irrelevant CC chains can be more of a hindrance than a help. Consider ditching email altogether in favour of project management software. These tools keep communication organised centrally so that everybody is kept in the loop. Establish clear communication guidelines so that all staff are on the same page about how and when to communicate.
3. Promote wellness
A happy team is a productive team. Wellness culture is a big deal in physical workplaces, and this should be no different for remote workers. Encourage your staff to take regular breaks for movement and fresh air. A 15-minute break every 75-90 minutes has been shown to boost productivity and focus. Consider subsidising perks like gym memberships, healthy food delivery and online counselling. Providing ergonomic equipment like standing desks could also make a big difference to the wellbeing of your staff.
4. Define structure
Structure is important in a physical work environment, and in many ways, it is even more important for remote workers. It is vital to ensure that each worker has clearly defined responsibilities, priorities and goals. Employees must have clarity about what tasks need to be completed and when it needs to be done by. Project management software is ideal for setting individual and collaborative goals. Additionally, you can use it to keep an eye on progress and deal with underperforming employees as required.
5. Encourage team building
Bonding and community-building are generally considered essential aspects of a productive workplace. However, they are harder to achieve with a dispersed workforce. It is clear that while remote working offers many benefits, the risks of loneliness and isolation are greater. Make an effort to include remote workers in company events and celebrations using technology like video chat.
Create opportunities for remote staff to communicate with each other informally. This could involve establishing social forums on Facebook or apps like Slack. Consider organising international or regional events or retreats so that employees can meet in person. When you are in touch with somebody on a daily basis, it’s nice to put a face to the name.
Employing remote workers is not without its frustrations and difficulties. Managing staff spread across multiple time zones, often from different cultures, can be a unique challenge. The balance of structure, communication and team morale can be tricky to maintain. But if you can keep all of these elements in check, the situation can be beneficial for all concerned.
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Guest writer: Harper Reid
As a freelance writer, Harper knows the sheer relief of a break between hours of screen-time. A breezy trip around the harbour on Ted Ashby, a stroll around the duck pond at the Auckland Botanical Gardens, or – as a treat – a hike up Rangitoto – are all perfect local cures to computer headaches. Find more of Harper’s work on Tumblr.
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