Now it is fashionable to write that remote work is a trend of the nearest future. They say that a couple more years – and all the workers of the intellectual sphere will move to a free schedule, changing the office to a house or tropical beach.
Indeed, the percentage of workers from home is increasing every year. It is predicted that by 2020 this figure may grow to 20%.
So far, these predictions cause me great skepticism. I will tell you about the five main problems we faced and how we solved them.
1. Problem with finding employees
Sometimes in small towns you can find real “gold nuggets”, who will work much harder than their colleagues from big cities.
However, finding these people is not easy. As our experience has shown, it is almost unrealistic to do it with the help of standard websites with vacancies, because you need to evaluate not only the resume and skills of the applicant, but also his ability to work remotely.
Telegram channels and groups in social networks dedicated to remote work have worked best for us. There you can place a vacancy announcement for free or for a small amount of money. Comes quite a lot of responses – from ten to several hundred.
1) Give preference to specialists who have worked for at least six months at a remote location and have already solved problems for themselves, which I will describe below.
2) Give the candidate a test task as close to the real one as possible and pay special attention to how the communication on it will develop. In remote work, the ability to communicate is a particularly important skill.
2. Problem with motivation of employees
It is more difficult for a remote employee to feel a part of something in common than for an office worker. He can’t catch the motivation of the team or recharge himself from the idle conversation “at the cooler’s”. Therefore, you will have to pay more attention to motivation, otherwise the employees will start to burn out.
1) It is worth at least a couple of times a month to allocate some time for a personal call with each employee to remind about his role in the team, to praise the victories and to help with problem solving.
2) Arrange team calls as often as possible. We do it every morning to plan the day, to discuss current tasks, to help each other with solving complex problems. This gives us a sense of community.
3) Organize an environment for smooth information exchange. For this purpose, we use the Slack Team Messenger, where you can discuss business issues, talk about life and share news.
3. Problem with planning and control
To control the work of employees in the office, just go around the desks and see who is doing what. This does not give a 100% objective picture, but creates a sense of control for both the manager and the employee.
At a remote location there is no way to look at a subordinate in the monitor or suddenly come up with the question: “How are you doing? So you need a tool that allows you to monitor the process in real time. There are special services for this purpose. They monitor the activity of employees during the day – that is, they “look” at the monitor instead of the boss, “report” on what they are doing, do not lay out solitaire, do not spend time in social networks.
Create a team push-tracker. Add to it every agreement, every small task, so that at the end of the day you can look at the list and understand who is fulfilling the agreements.
4. Technical problems
Sometimes the efficiency of remote employees depends on events that you can not control: power outage, bad Internet, failure of the messenger or on the drag manager server. Such things happen more often than you can imagine. If you can quickly come up with something in the office, then at a remote location you just have to accept.
Have at hand a backup channel of communication with the team, so that in case of technical failures not to be left without communication for the whole day and at least partially control the work.
5. Self-identification problem
It’s hard to feel like a director and business owner when you sit on your balcony wearing a stretched T-shirt and “put out fires” all day long: you correspond with employees and clients. You feel like a secretary at best.
At some point, it may negatively affect the motivation of the manager, even want to return to the office.
1) Take off the extra workload, free up time for strategic tasks. That is, hire a secretary or manager who will relieve you of the flow.
2) From time to time, arrange strategic retreats where the whole team or at least the main backbone gathers. This helps to understand the size of the business and make sure that it does not exist only virtually.