More and more UK workplaces are needing to grapple with the additional needs of remote workers, as remote working becomes steadily more sought after.
It is common for employers who are new to the concept to be concerned about potential disadvantages.
Instead, they should be focusing on the benefits to remote working, such as a more motivated, less stressed workforce, and opportunities to hire much more widely and for more diverse talent than you have been previously, thanks to the possibility of flexible hours.
Yes, there are a number of well-known obstacles to overcome to create a truly successful workforce. These can be addressed with readily available technology.
Potential security breaches
If your employee will be working with sensitive information, there are several ways you can help to keep that data secure.
Ask them not to use public WiFi connections, such as those beloved by patrons of coffee shops, but to use their own password-protected connection at home.
You can provide them with computers to use for their work, in order to ensure you can rely on their antivirus and malware programs.
Asking them to work through a VPN, or to store their work in the cloud, makes it much less likely that important files will be misplaced or transferred in insecure ways.
It may also be sensible to provide your employees with a work smartphone, to avoid security and privacy confusion caused by using the same phone for person and business use.
Problems communicating with co-workers
It is very well-known that tone doesn’t come across well through the medium of text, and so if your remote workers communicate exclusively through one of the common workplace messenger apps like Slack, they may end up creating or perpetuating misunderstandings. Make sure nobody forgets about the telephone, and invite your employee into the workplace every now and again to keep office relationships healthy.
They may also be problems with internet connections for conference calls, so it’s worth checking that your employee has the required bandwidth at their chosen place of work.
Problems with trust and motivation
Even with the steady increase in remote working over the last decade, there are still employers who worry that offering the opportunity of working from home will be taken by employees as an opportunity to lower productivity.
This is certainly a risk, but the key is to judge exactly what metrics you would like to measure your employees on. Once you and your employee have decided upon this, any deviation can be dealt with exactly as you would if they had disappointed you in the office. Their home is no different from any other workplace.
If you want them to account for every moment of their time, consider a time management app, or even take the extra step of asking them to have a live video feed so you can see them working.
If you want to account for their progress towards a target throughout the day, there are many project management apps and software available. If you want to account for the results of their projects, then perhaps you only need to give them a ring or an email once a week.
If one of the things you are worried about as a manager is how to tell when they have started work, without wanting them to bother you with an email or phone-call, then Tensor’s Self Service Module might be exactly what you are after.
This app, which is also available as a browser-based piece of software, allows your remote worker to clock in and out with one easy click. Using a mobile, the software also collects their GPS data so that you can check their location if you so wish.
If they have several individual jobs in a day the system allows them to finish and start new jobs without clocking out for the day, so that there is no confusion in their attendance.
Please get in touch to discuss our SSM app and how it can make you more confident about setting up a remote workforce.