If your company promotes and encourages telecommuting, you’re far from alone with this trend. Last year, 43 percent of Americans spent at least some of their time working remotely, up 4 percent from 2012, according to a recent Gallup survey. The survey also found that employees are telecommuting and working from other non-office locations for longer periods of time.
While many employees welcome the chance to work at least part of the week from home, it can be challenging for business owners to manage remote workers. Indeed, there are some definite pros and cons in having employees work remotely. Here are some tips to help make the process run as smoothly as possible.
The Advantages of Hiring Remote Employees
Business owners who allow at least a portion of their employees to work from home can benefit financially in a number of ways. For example, a smaller in-house group of employees may mean being able to downsize to a smaller office building and thus pay lower rent. After all, beyond providing a laptop, employees who work from home typically use their own phone, furniture, printer and more.
And, as Business Collective notes, some remote workers work as independent contractors rather than full-time, permanent employees of your company. This designation means you typically don’t have to provide for the same type of health benefits or other perks that full-time employees receive. Additionally, remote workers tend to work their own hours, which can lead to decreased stress and a higher work output.
The Downside of Employees Who Telecommute
Of course, having a telecommuting policy isn’t all peaches and cream. One drawback of not having a majority of employees working from your office is the difficulty of maintaining a strong company culture. It makes sense that those who work from home will not have as much contact with other employees, so establishing an inclusive company culture can be difficult.
Additionally, rather than being able to pop into an employee’s office, management and fellow colleagues are then forced to stay in touch through email, phone or online chat, which doesn’t always provide the easiest or timeliest means of communication. And while some workers thrive working from home, others struggle with being productive and meeting deadlines.
Some Tools to Make it All Run Smoothly
But that doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t develop a telecommuting policy. In fact, there are a number of ways to successfully manage your team of remote workers. As CNBC notes, start by providing all telecommuters with the appropriate systems and tools to get the job done.
While you’ll want to make sure everyone has equal access to the same files, documents and other company resources, adopting a cloud-based storage system will allow everyone to easily access what they need anytime and from anywhere. To ensure important collateral remains safe and secure, you may want to invest in a cloud-data protection plan like MozyPro. This service, which includes a feature called Mozy Sync, automatically updates and syncs every uploaded file from any location.
This way, if a remote employee updates a file at home and saves it to Mozy Sync, the updated version can then also be accessed by fellow colleagues and managers from virtually any device. As a bonus, because Mozy Sync protects files with enterprise-grade security, Mozy Pro can provide business owners with better peace of mind.
Ultimately, management and ownership can still create a rich company culture, even if some of their employees work remotely. In these cases, set up regular phone calls with remote employees to not only check in on progress, but also establish greater rapport with one another. Your company may also want to make it a point to plan employee outings, which could include happy hours, sporting events and various team-building exercises. In the end, make sure you’re clearly communicating equally with all members of your staff, which will help to keep them better apprised of company news and celebrations.