Over the past two decades, working from home either part-time or full-time has become a standard option at many companies. A remote or virtual position is a coveted and important role for many people wishing to telecommute.
Statistics have shown that remote workers are happier, more productive and significantly more loyal to their employers than many onsite workers. The flexible lifestyle eliminates stress, commuting, and wasted time in a standard office.
Known as telecommuters, virtual employees or remote workers, the employees working outside the standard office environment generally work from a home or a virtual office.
Qualified telecommuters are highly productive
It has been substantially proven that qualified people working from a home-based office are highly productive. Additionally, telecommuting reduces the road and air pollution with fewer cars on the road.
Employing qualified people for remote positions is economically beneficial for companies. The elimination of office space in itself is a huge expense reduction.
Key component of managing a virtual work environment
Understandably, managing a virtual work team creates some new challenges that can easily be overcome and successfully managed. As in any company, strong communication is critical. Keeping the remote workers properly informed will keep them connected with the company and well-informed.
There are several forms of technology that can be used for keeping remote workers connected. Skype is a popular application for domestic or international calls, video access and desktop sharing. The best part is that the standard Skype program is free.
Many webinar programs are available to handle conference calls, PowerPoint presentations and other group meeting requirements. Free conference calling applications are available online, as well. Regularly scheduled staff or company meetings should always include the remote workers, as well.
Instant messaging is a must
Instant messaging is an important asset for communicating quickly with remote workers. Most intranets or cloud-based systems have an option for instant messaging or quick chats. This allows for quick questions or short pieces of information between employees and management.
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In the news
Company news should be communicated to all employees at the same time. It is quite demoralizing for remote-based workers to hear news from a co-worker when really they should hear it from management when everyone is informed. No one wants to feel forgotten or less important.
Events and Gatherings
All employees, whether onsite or remote, should be included in company events such as retreats, holiday parties, departmental conferences, teambuilding gatherings and any other all-employee activities.
Lights, camera, video it!
In the rare instance the remote employees cannot attend or it is not feasible to invite them, video conferencing should be considered. If the event(s) can be televised live or recorded for the employees not present, this creates a sense of being part of the team.
Do the right thing
If a remote employee cannot attend a holiday party or other activity, a monetary or gift award equal to the amount being spent for each attending person should be given to the remote person.
Always include the whole team
When trained, supervised and given proper communication, qualified remote employees will be a true asset to the company. Even when out of sight, the virtual employee should feel like an integral part of the team. A good manager and a well-established telecommuting program can make that happen.