Remote working, and in particular homeworking, has been under attack in recent times. Just last year a study by Wakefield Research and Citrix of 1013 homeworkers revealed that 43% of home-workers watch television, 24% drink alcohol and 20% play games while they are ‘officially’ working from home. And, as many of you will know, Yahoo recently announced that they would be banning homeworking, which sent shock waves through HR circles.
Despite this bad press, remote working and homeworking must live on. Why? Because it remains a low cost, rapid and flexible way for firms to start or expand operations nationally or internationally. And secondly, we know remote working works. Just ask the millions of self employed remote workers who deliver successfully every day.
But, to make remote working work you need to take deliberate steps so your employees get up to speed quickly and maintain peak performance. And I have set them out below.
1. Hire Staff Who Can Learn and Work Well Remotely.
Not all staff can work well remotely, so try and hire staff who have a proven track record in working well remotely. You should be ideally looking for staff who can show they are results and not activity focused.
2. Plan face to face meetings at least once a year
Ideally, arrange a face to face induction and team introduction and collaboration session during the orientation phase and then at several points throughout the year, as budget dictates. Why? Because face to face contacts help to consolidate relationships in a way that virtual working cannot.
3. Adopt E-learning
Remote working and online learning are a match made in heaven and businesses should leverage e-learning tools to help train their remote workers. Why? Because it is available online to anybody, anywhere with an internet connection — and it can be delivered on demand. There are range of on-line tools to help remote teams both learn and collaborate.
4. Enable On-line Collaborative Learning
E-learning has grown up in line with how learning has changed. E-learning is no longer about simply delivering an on-line, TV like experience. Employees can now learn collaboratively from their peers and from using the vast information stores on the internet. Build your own social learning internal ecosystem, consisting of internal wiki’s and forums, chat tools, shared working spaces, so remote employees can engage and learn in a collaborative manner.
5. Reward Results Over Activity
If you want to train and encourage your remote staff to work effectively, you should ideally bring an emphasis on results rather than mere activity by making a significant part of the pay, performance related. This will help to train remote staff to be more productive and effective.