The Strategist

How to make remote employees happy and productive

10/10/2016 - 16:33

Every tenth employed American works from home at least once a week, according to CarInsurance’s infographic. Telework is gaining popularity - number of labor force in the US increased by only 3% over the last 7 years, while number of remote workers over the same period grew by 66%.
Overall, about half of working Americans, that is 64 million people, have a possibility to work remotely at least from time to time, and 8 out of 10 would like to use this opportunity. If employees spent 50% of their working time at home, it could dramatically change our world, the infographics’ authors believe.

86% of Americans get to their workplaces by car. An alternative to stay at home at least a day would significantly lower fuel consumption and reduce the pollution level. In addition, this would help to save an average of 109 hours per year, not to mention lower stress level, which has a positive impact on human health.

There are many benefits for workers, but not for employers. Remote work reduces office and corporate transportation costs, food costs, yet many employers feel suspicious about this new trend. They fear that telework will distract employees, and efficiency of communication between employees will fall sharply.

These concerns cannot be considered groundless. Another interesting infographics shows what else remote employees do apart from usual activities. It turns out that 43% of them watched TV or a movie while working, 35% did household chores, 28% cooked lunch, 26% were dozing, 24% drank alcohol, 20% play video games. Employees working from home said they were often distracted by household chores (31%), television (26%) and pets (23%).

According to a joint study of Unisys and Forrester Consulting, remote workers are 67% more productive than others. They stimulate introduction of new technologies in their companies (10% more than usual). At the same time, they are twice as likely to download unsafe mobile applications for business, which, in turn, jeopardizes security of their companies.

How to ensure efficiency of remote workers?

Apparently, remote work is not for everyone. On the one hand, effective distant work requires a high level of motivation and self-organization. On the other hand, it’s not suitable for extroverts, who cannot live without communication with colleagues.

For their part, employers are faced with a problem of how to balance the process to satisfy needs of remote and office employees, and ensure proper work? Here are some advice on organization of work in companies with remote workers:

1. Create common goals
Regardless of location or time zone, all employees should belong to the team and participate in achievement of general working purposes. Nowadays, there is a wide range of technology platforms and cloud-based solutions to enable all employees to participate in the work process effectively. 

2. Set individual goals
In addition to involvement in the overall workflow, it is important to set individual goals for remote employees, as well as track progress on each of them on a regular basis.

3. Develop trust and responsibility
Remote staff must have a high level of self-organization, and their communication with colleagues should be regular and built on principles of trust and responsibility. Instead of controlling where, how much and how remote employees work, companies should focus on their responsibility for results.

4. Overcome isolation
Effective communication between employees is especially important for companies with remote workers. Theoretically, it should provide employees with every opportunity for effective communication, and help managers constantly monitor the process.

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