In our last employer post, we discussed top reasons to offer telecommuting to help attract technically talented candidates. In this edition, we’ll examine some of the reasons telecommuters outperform office workers, review some of the pitfalls of telecommuting and evaluate best practices to counter those pitfalls.
Why Telecommuters Outperform Office Workers
According to Brian De Haaff, CEO of Aha! and author of an article in Inc.com, there are three key reasons he believes remote workers outperform office workers:
With no office distractions and greater autonomy, remote workers have the freedom to get more done. According to one survey, 65 percent of workers said that remote work would give their productivity a boost. Another 86 percent said that working alone allows them to hit maximum productivity.
Remote workers can make effective teammates because distance demands better communication. Remote workers must reach out to one another frequently and with purpose. This leads to stronger collaboration and camaraderie.
Office life can be plagued with absent workers who call in sick or leave early to run errands. Remote workers do not need to excuse themselves from work because they can design their workday to suit. This may ultimately result in making remote workers more present for their work and team.
Flexibility in work schedules or location can improve productivity and retention, but brings a new set of challenges—like difficulties in collaboration and bonding. As noted in LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report, a few companies, like IBM and Yahoo, have publicly moved away from telecommuting in the past, citing difficulties with remote collaboration, oversight, and team bonding.
Additional studies have shown that some workers suffer from diminished knowledge transfer, decreased engagement, and a sense of cultural disconnect when telecommuting. You can combat these potential issues by using tips we’ve rounded up from Forbes, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report, and the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM).
Tips to Avoid Key Telecommuting Problems
1. Make communication a top priority
Use online calendaring, centralized project info shared in Google docs, and other web-based project management tools such as Slack to share information about schedules and work progress. This will help manage the workflow and keep remote workers engaged.
2. Make time for face time
Whether using a tool like Zoom or scheduling frequent meet-ups, be sure to connect project teams visually when possible in order to foster a stronger bond and establish collaboration among team members.
Some of the tools that can help recreate the immediacy and informality of being in the same room include instant messaging platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, and video conferencing platforms like GoToMeeting, Webex, and Skype.
3. Schedule daily contact but don’t micromanage
Avoid having telecommuters feel like they’re an island, but at the same time, maintain good oversight of their work. Schedule communication time, let them know when to reach you throughout the day, and make sure you check in via message or voice at least daily. At the same time, do not micromanage.
Find ways to acknowledge telecommuters with gestures such as a gift card, breaks after juggling multiple deadlines, and looking for in-person team building opportunities. Include remote workers in informal gatherings where possible, and ensure there are opportunities for them to visit the home office.
5. Emphasize work-life balance
Some employees go into overdrive when working remotely and neglect work-life balance. In order for telecommuting to remain a perk, be certain to encourage workers to use good time-management, setting start and stop times that you both will honor. Foster open communication with the employee to ensure the arrangement is working for them.
6. Train managers and supervisors on working with remote employees
Your management team will need to set expectations for workers’ schedules and availability, establish regular times for discussion and brainstorming, and create appropriate performance metrics. Your managers will need to identify workers who are disciplined self-starters, and will need to be able to review and evaluate the telework arrangement periodically in terms of experience, results and costs.
Do you have a difficult position to fill or would like help preparing your perks package? Contact Phoenix Partners for help today.