If you would like to use remote workers, be prepared to change your own management style, says the author of a book on the new rules for succeeding in business.
“Obviously, working remotely is not for everyone,” says Dana Borowka. “Working away from the watchful eyes of the office requires autonomy and a limited need for social interaction that, to be frank, some just do not possess. Some workers are pretty good at it and others are pretty ugly.”
Dana Borowka is co-author with his wife Ellen Borowka of the new book “Cracking the Business Code” (CreateSpace, 2014). The book is an anthology of cutting-edge business advice from leading experts, including the Borowkas.
“To succeed with remote workers, the trick is to find the great people who are self-motivating and can concentrate better without the distractions of a traditional office,” says Dana Borowka. “In today’s new world of work, the payoffs of using remote workers can be huge.”
Here are seven tips on how to set remote workers up for success:
- First, be sure that your remote worker has a dedicated workspace, whether that is a room in their home or a rented space. If they are trying to concentrate while their kids run around them playing, it simply will not work in the long run. Many companies stress that remote working should not be considered an alternative to childcare. Be sure your employee understands they are expected to focus on their work.
- Have managers and remote workers take personality tests. The results of the tests can be used as tools for productive conversations on workplace styles and expectations. Helping a remote worker understand how best to communicate with managers and supervisors can be invaluable.
- Also, be sure they have all the tools they will need to complete their work. It may be a wise investment to provide employees with a computer and printer, or whatever other technology is necessary to their jobs. Additionally, be sure they have access to online technologies that will enable you to communicate with and keep track of them. Google has helpful free tools, but there are many other solutions that could be helpful.
- Remember that communication is key. Although your remote staff will need to be able to manage their own day-to-day workflow, you and the team (whether also remote or in the office) need to be appraised of the status of their projects. Establish consistent check-ins with your remote staff (via phone or an online tool like Skype) and be sure to include them in departmental meetings, so they are in the loop.
- Although they may be fine without the daily water cooler conversations of an office, you want to ensure that your remote staff can maintain social connections with the other employees of the company. Encourage them to have discussions with other staff members so that they can continue to collaborate. Also, it would be wise to bring your remote workers together at the office a couple times a year so that they can have some face time with you and their colleagues.
- Since you won’t interact with them daily, it is important that you are clearly setting goals and measuring results to evaluate remote worker progress. It is important that you give feedback to remote workers, either as part of your regular check-ins, or in established performance review sessions. This will obviously require more effort on your part but will help your remote workers understand how they are doing and how they can improve.
- Lastly, don’t let your remote workers be “out of sight, out of mind.” One of the biggest challenges to job satisfaction for remote workers is the perceived lack of advancement in the company. Be sure you are evaluating their results and considering them for work that would help them with career development. Do not forget to include them on projects or committees where their expertise would be useful.
“Since you can’t just walk by their desk to check in, it is crucial that tools and processes be put into place that will allow you and your employees to remain connected,” adds Dana Borowka.
For more ideas on running a successful business, check out Dana & Ellen Borowka’s new book, “Cracking the Business Code” (www.lighthouseconsulting.com). The Borowka’s firm, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires and staff development, team building, interpersonal and communication training, career guidance and transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive and employee coaching. Their first book is titled “Cracking the Personality Code.”