Communicate, collaborate, and control — these are three areas where some remote-work-based businesses struggle. However, with the right tech and careful screening of your employees, you don’t have to. Read on for ways to overcome three of the top issues that can arise when your workforce is wide but you need a narrow focus to get the job done.
Communication is essential in any workplace. When this workplace happens to be your employees’ own homes, staying in touch and keeping everyone on the same page is your top priority. Maintain an open and consistent line of communication, and make it possible for your employees to do the same with one another. You might, for example, create a Facebook or Skype chat group or send out a daily or weekly rundown of current projects.
Another way to ensure that your employees and freelance workers are not misinformed is to catalog all online meetings. Anytime you have a team call or virtual meeting, record this from beginning to end. You can then utilize speech-to-text transcription to make notes, which, depending on the service you use, may only set you back about $.10 per minute — this is much more cost-effective than paying a dedicated transcriptionist. These notes may be edited as-needed and distributed to ensure there are no misunderstandings.
Communicating with your staff is one thing, but ensuring that you can all work together is another beast entirely. Thankfully, digital tools are being developed every day that make this possible in ways our parents and grandparents could never have imagined. Workable.com highlights more than a dozen workflow and collaboration tools, and many of them utilize cloud-based technology that gives everyone access to the same data in real time.
The right system will allow workers to easily assign tasks to one another and alert coworkers to any potential problems or delays. Look for software with administrator controls and, if the technology is not your proverbial cup of tea, work with an IT provider to ensure that all of your needed online systems are linked for all users.
Maintaining control over your business is, in all honesty, much easier when you are there and can see your employees. If you have never managed a team of remote workers, you should know there are things you can do to keep a hand on what happens during working hours. First, you need to understand what you can and cannot require of your team. If they are employees, you can require that they work at least 40 hours per week and set specific hours for this to take place. Whether you choose to pay a salary or by the hour, which, according to UpCounsel, are governed by different employer policies and local laws, is entirely up to you.
It can help to have a written employment agreement, which should outline company operating hours, individual employee expectations, and how HR matters, such as time tracking, disciplinary action, and payroll, will be handled.
Once the above systems are in place, you are ready to assemble a team. You can do this in many ways, such as by utilizing online work platforms or networking within your community or industry. Keep in mind that many work-from-home jobs are considered freelance, and it is your responsibility to clarify employment type before adding someone to your payroll.
Tips on Choosing Remote Team Members
Confirm their online capabilities – high-speed Internet, a reliable desktop or laptop computer, and access to a telephone should be your minimum requirements.
Contact their professional references – ask for several references of people they have worked with and for, and make it a point to inquire as to your potential employee’s communication skills.
Remember that your remote workforce must operate as efficiently and effectively as it would if you under a single roof. By prioritizing communication, collaboration, and control, you will put yourself one step closer to making your remote workforce a rock-star team.