Employers can have a successful, engaged, and productive remote workforce if they meet five basic needs.

So says Randy Rayess, co-founder of VenturePact, who on Tuesday penned a blog for Harvard Business Review about the increasing number of employers who not only utilize freelancers, but entire remote workforces. But to be most successful, employers with even one remote worker need to address five key needs:

1. Convenience. Rayess defines this as giving remote workers the required technology and other tools to adequately do their job with as little hassle as possible.

“It is important to give your virtual employees large monitors, great computers, and fast Internet,” he wrote. “This will encourage them to work hard and stick with you for the long term. Bad tools hurt productivity.”

2. Transparency. Giving all employees access to knowledge management tools such as Slack and Sqwiggle that display everyone’s questions and answers.

“This is a lot better than email, where the employee emails one person and the question is only answered once,” Rayess wrote. “If you use a knowledge management tool, the tag on the question will allow the next employee, who will probably have similar questions, to easily find and learn by searching through past questions.”

3. Accountability. Having remote team assign themselves daily goals and provide weekly reports, tracking their progress using project management tools like Asana, Basecamp or JIRA.

4. Communication. Via instant messaging tools, video calls, or individual calls.

“Take time every week to have a candid conversation with remote employees,” Rayess wrote. “Make sure you include personal questions to get a sense of the employees’ interests and, if they’re in a different country, their culture.”

5. Trust. Creating “inspiring” videos about the organization’s culture, involving remote workers in company events, and conducting personal and professional “check-ins.” Get-togethers are always good, particularly to an “amazing location with great weather,” Rayess wrote.

Featured image: Thinkstock

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3 responses to “5 Keys to Managing Remote Workers”

  1. Thanks for posting Randy’s blog, Katie! His tips are great pointers for businesses to keep in mind when implementing a telecommuting policy. I would have to agree that convenience and access to the right technology to help employees get their job done no matter their physical location is critical to the success of any program. Transitioning from working in the office, to working from home or a coffee shop should be seamless. Employees should be able to communicate with clients and colleagues, access information on servers, and save, share and print documents effortlessly and securely. Another thing to keep in mind is the idea that many workers might be working remotely from mobile devices. IT professionals should consider a BYOD policy in their larger telecommuting strategy. – Andy Jones, Xerox

  2. It’s important for employers to be able to monitor the activity of remote workers or virtual employees as well. As a virtual/remote employee it’s also important to be able to demonstrate that they are engaged as well as in-office workers.

    One of my employers required us to use remote worker time tracking software that tracked our time on specific projects and included screenshots of our activity. I didn’t mind being monitored that way any more than I minded having my boss stop by my cubicle to see what I was working on. And it removed any doubt about what I was working on when it came time to submit my hours for payment.

    I’m thrilled at the growing market for remote/virtual workers and can stay as busy as I want to be.

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