The A-Z of Managing Telecommuters for Your Small Business

In 2017, a staggering 43% of American workers spent at least some of the time working remotely. The benefits to both employers and employees of telecommunicating are prolific, but, at the same time, remote working is not without its challenges.

If you’re determined for your business to jump on the rapidly escalating telecommuting bandwagon and to reap the maximum rewards of having a mobile workforce, take a look at some of the highlights of HubSpot’s ‘The Ultimate Guide to Telecommuting’ report.

The Pros and Cons of Remote Working

Saving on office space costs is one of the primary pros of having remote teams. According to HubSpot, office space for the average worker costs a whopping $11,000 a year, so just think of the savings you’d make by swapping extensive office leases for homeworking.

Then there’s the productivity perks of remote working, with a huge 91% of telecommuters admitting they are more productive working at home. And a more productive set of workers means one thing for your business – greater output, more sales and a more profitable venture.

That said, not all employees are adequately motivated working by themselves and the HubSpot report found that some remote workers find it difficult to develop the discipline needed to work from home. Some telecommuting employees also said they lack direction when working from remote locations and can feel isolated and lonely.

To help overcome some of the challenges of remote working, HubSpot recommends employers invest in technology which helps nurture effective team-building and collaboration.

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Creating a Telecommuting Policy

Another key takeaway from HubSpot’s guide to telecommuting is the importance for a business to create a telecommuting policy. The report highlights the lack of such policies amongst modern businesses, with despite almost two-thirds of companies allowing telecommuting, less than half have a structured remote working policy in place.

“In a remote workforce, there’s greater potential for unclear expectations. Miscommunication can quickly escalate without a policy in place. With one, you set clear goals from the start.”

To ensure your telecommuting policy covers every aspect of remote working, it should cover the following:

  • Eligibility and approval
  • Flexibility
  • Equipment and cybersecurity
  • Workspace and location
  • Communication
  • Dependent care

When composing the policy, ask questions such as will you need a formal vetting and approval process in place before allowing employees to work remotely? How many days can your team work from home? Can they work their own hours, or work during set hours of business? Which equipment will your employees use when working from home, and are company data and passwords secure when logging on from remote locations?

You should make communication a key focus of a telecommuting policy, by exploring what are the best ways for employees to get in contact with yourself, each other and clients. Will you set regular meeting calls, and how will tasks be logged and timed?

Best Practices for Remote Team Management

Managing remote teams is challenging for businesses and HubSpot provides some sound advice on practices to implement for effective and successful remote team management.

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One such practice is to use a communication platform, such as Zoom, Slack or Skype for Business, which helps connect teams in a collaborate, creative and seamless manner.

Another of HubSpot’s ‘best practices’ for remote team management is to head to the cloud. When employees are working from remote corners of the country, or even the world, vital documents, work and data can get lost. Using a cloud-based system like Dropbox or Google Drive means important documents and work are kept safe.

Not only this but platforms such as Basecamp and Trello are an easy way to track projects and productivity amongst remote working teams.

Rather than ‘micromanaging’ employees and acting like a stranger, HubSpot recommends adopting a more ‘hands on’ approach by always being available to remote workers and suggests providing regular coaching or weekly one-to-one sessions.

Celebrating success is another important feature of remote working management, which can be a great way to lift morale among a telecommuting team.

HubSpot recommends creating a great feedback culture within remote workers by getting the entire team involved, getting face time whenever possible to deliver constructive criticism and “when your employee does a great job, let them know!”

“Positive (and detailed) feedback builds amazing team spirit,” writes HubSpot.

You can read HubSpot’s full ‘Ultimate Guide to Telecommuting’ report here.

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