Wondering how to set employee expectations for remote work? Across the country, companies are realizing that their remote workers are just as productive at home as they are in the office, and that overhead is significantly lower with workers who telecommute.
However, everyone in the workforce isn’t equally comfortable with or equipped and skilled for working from home. Likewise, managers may not be prepared for overseeing employees they can’t actually see from their own desk except through a screen.
Setting employee expectations for remote work needs to be a strategic process that works both ways. While 63% of companies today have remote workers, 57% lack clear remote work policies. Finding the right balance between micro-management and complete release of the reins is critical to maintaining productivity and performance.
Step 1: Communication
A way to communicate with remote employees and clear guidelines around how and when communication is expected to be done is a must. To maintain productivity, less might be more in regard to mandated check-ins and meetings. A start-of-week communication around expectations for upcoming tasks, a few end-of-day touch-bases, and an end-of-week recap is sufficient in most cases.
Be clear about what mode of communication is best, and don’t require that a remote employee track multiple modes - use email or Slack, or text as a main mode of communication, not all three. Set parameters for replies; 24 hours should be amenable unless a note of urgency is attached to a message.
Step 2: Scheduling
One of the biggest reasons workers are choosing to stay remote is for control over their own schedule. This is particularly important for parents, who need to be able to juggle family responsibilities and work obligations. This might mean some employees work nights while others do short bursts of work interspersed with lengthy breaks.
Varying schedules and time zones can present challenges for managers, so making sure those all-important communications strategies are in place is critical. Consider choosing an hour or two of overlapping working hours each day when a remote employee can reasonably be expected to make themselves available for a touch-base; a shared calendar can help.
Step 3: Productivity
Tracking time worked for remote employees who don’t sit at a desk from 9-5 can be a job in and of itself. Studies show that the more hours are worked in a day, the less productive every subsequent hour becomes. Instead of forcing remote employees to “punch in, punch out”, consider figuring out what they need to accomplish weekly and then let them take the lead.
When employees are paid based on what they accomplish for an organization instead of just a stipend for their time, productivity increases. If they get everything due for that week done in 35 hours instead of 40, the person reaping the benefits of their time management should be them. (Just be careful about paying for piecework, as you could still be responsible for overtime if too many hours are worked in a day or week.)
Management style affects remote employee productivity and satisfaction. Hiring the right type of managers to run remote teams is incredibly important. Seek out candidates who have the soft skills required to elicit the best performance from your remote workers.
Set expectations for your managers that are carefully thought out and designed to help them get high-quality work out of remote employees without draconian measures. The goal is a work environment where everyone thrives.
Step 5: Balance
Make it clear to your remote employees that telecommuting is for their benefit as well as for the company’s bottom line. A distributed workforce can lead to cost savings as companies can shed unused and unnecessary office space, and save on a range of service-related expenses from utilities to business phone and internet.
Employees save time on the commute, money on office-appropriate wardrobe, and stress over a wide range of issues from arranging care when a child is sick to missing work when they themselves are under the weather. Make sure you promote employee health, including mental health, and have policies in place to support work-life balance. Lead by example, and ensure that employees know it’s acceptable to walk away from work once assigned tasks are done.
How Crosschq Can Help
Crosschq 360 can help you identify which of your candidates has the best potential for participating in or managing a distributed workforce. You can formulate your questions to discover what previous superiors, peers, and subordinates have to say about each candidate’s abilities in regard to time management and motivation - for themselves or others.
By hiring candidates who are capable of thriving in a remote work environment, you can help assure quality of hire and achieve company goals. To learn more about how digital reference checking can help you identify ideal remote employees, request a demonstration today.
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