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The idea of remote employees has transformed the modern-day workplace. Over the last 10 years, flexibility with work has become a high priority for employees—and even moreso over the COVID19 pandemic.
In fact, an HR survey conducted showed that 78% of respondents felt that flexible work was their top non-monetary benefit and was the thing most likely to keep them at the company longer (aside from higher pay).
Since it’s clear that working remotely is important to employees, it is time for you to hop on the work from home train and get your company moving to allow your employees more flexibility and balance.
This may help to keep your employee retention rates higher and may also help to keep your employees happier in their jobs. Seeing as these things are beneficial for you and your company, we have put together a guide to help you navigate the art of remote employees.
Why Remote Employees Are So Important
Working remotely is defined as a professional environment that is outside of the office. This means that your employees could be working from home, working from a hotel halfway across the world, or a cafe down the street–really anywhere outside of the company’s physical office.
A few years ago, it seemed that only certain jobs allowed for remote work. However, after the onslaught of COVID, we learned that more jobs can be done remotely than we previously thought.
This is largely thanks to technology. The ability to communicate with others is much easier now with different tools such as Slack and Zoom. Though for some jobs, remote work isn’t as ideal as working in the office, you can still have great success if you have the right remote setup, the right tools, and the right guidance to help make remote work a success.
Remote employees are a crucial part of your company for a few different reasons.
One, remote work is the future. COVID sped up this process, but companies have been looking at and trying out more flexible work schedules for years. It seems difficult nowadays to ask employees to be in the office Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 p.m.
Two, remote employees tend to have a higher sense of well-being. This is because they don’t feel as if their entire life is consumed by work and commutes. They get to take more breaks during the day to go for a walk, get in a quick workout, and more, which improves their mental health. The happier your employees are, the more productive they are and the more likely they are to stay at your company. So, by allowing your employees to work remotely at least part of the time, you’ll find that they feel much more willing and able to do their job than if they had to drag themselves through a commute to the office every single morning.
Third, the more employees you have working remotely, the lower your overhead costs. Real estate isn’t getting any cheaper, and having all of your employees work from the office requires a bigger office space with loads of additional bills (including rent, electricity, and more). By having your employees work from home at least part of the time, you can stagger your employees coming into the office on different days a few days a week and thus have a smaller office, fewer desks and computers, etc.
Fourth, productivity is shown to be higher when working remotely. One study showed that remote employees are 20-25% more productive than those working in the office five days a week. This is likely because employees are more likely to take necessary breaks when at home (such as going on a walk). Adequate breaks help with creativity, motivation, and performance. And these are all things that you want for your company.
On top of that, office events are no longer a part of the budget. You may have a gathering from time to time, but it is no longer necessary to throw a “party” for each employee’s birthday. You can instead celebrate virtually and save the company a lot of money.
Finally and most importantly, working remotely helps your employees feel as if they have a better work-life balance. Instead of spending an hour each way commuting to and from work, 8-9 hours a day at the office, and then coming home exhausted, employees get a refreshing and healthier way of approaching work.
Working from home allows them time to run errands, do a quick workout, take a full lunch break, spend extra time with their kids, and much more. As a result, your employees are happier and more likely to do their jobs well. Freedom and flexibility can go a long way, and remote work allows for that.
The proof of the benefits of remote employees is in the pudding. In a case study involving a national oil company, it was found that recently, meetings have become more accessible to employees across the board, and there is higher interaction between employees. This is thanks to the introduction of remote work solutions that bring teams together.
Additionally, the employees of the oil company found that the more flexible their work conditions, the more efficient they were at their jobs. And the work-life balance keeps employees engaged and excited about their job.
Quick Tips to Improve Remote Employees Today
There are plenty of reasons why remote employees are so important, but you may feel worried about getting your team to maximize the benefits involved in this type of work.
Fear not–we have some quick tips that will help you improve how your remote employees work today and how to make managing your remote employees more straightforward and successful.
Adopt an HR Tool
Communication is critical. It’s the only way things get done. You may worry that communication will become an issue when you have remote employees, but that is far from the truth.
Many employees feel that communication becomes more manageable when working from home. That is primarily due to the implementation of an HR tool.
HR software is built to help streamline things in a company, particularly in HR, and keeping your employees happy. There are many different tools on the market to choose from, but the one that we find useful for most companies is BambooHR.
BambooHR is one of the most simple and intuitive HR tools out there, and you’ll quickly grow to love its effectiveness as well. This software helps with everything from recruiting candidates to onboarding new hires to automated workflows and more.
Here are some of the top features of BambooHR.
People Data & Analytics: The ability to gather and store data on your potential and existing employees is an important part of HR. This allows HR professionals to manage employee information and ensure that employee records, workflows, approvals, reporting, and more are accurate and secure. With BambooHR, all employee information exists in a single database that is secure and features powerful reporting tools.
Hiring: Hiring is one of the most challenging parts of HR, so anything that can make that process easier is welcomed with open arms by HR professionals. That is certainly the case with BambooHR. It features applicant tracking tools that help make every hiring stage easier, from applications to onboarding. It also offers an applicant tracking system to keep everything organized and a mobile app to simplify the process for all parties involved in hiring.
Onboarding: You want to make a good impression on your new employees, which is why the onboarding process is important. Another reason is that you want the process to be easy and smooth for your HR team. BambooHR takes care of all the necessary forms and eases concerns of compliance issues. On top of that, BambooHR allows you to personalize the process for your company.
Compensation: Make paying your employees easier and more accurate with the help of BambooHR. With its time tracking software, payroll abilities, and PTO offerings, your HR team’s job will become much easier and less stressful.
Bamboo HR offers two different packages for companies to choose from, Essentials and Advantage. The prices for the packages are not available on the website. Simply fill out the online form for a free quote.
Flexibility is one of the most significant benefits of working remotely. Not only do employees have more flexibility in terms of your work schedule, but they also have more flexibility in where they choose to work.
To let your employees enjoy their flexibility (which in turn improves their work), don’t forget to allow them to take advantage of that perk.
Micromanaging is a big no-no when you have employees working remotely. Instead, focus on establishing clear expectations of what your employees need to do and when and allow them to work their way to get things done. The hold them accountable for completing their work.
Employees who feel stifled, especially when working from home, are more likely to move onto another remote job that respects their need for flexibility and trusts them to work without being managed at every step of the way.
It is human nature to want to be recognized when you do well. That is certainly true when it comes to work. Sometimes it can feel as if that recognition is easier in an office where a little party can be thrown to honor the signing of a big deal, completing a big project, and more. However, just because employees are no longer working in the office full-time does not mean you shouldn’t recognize them.
Many people are happy with just a “thank you” or a “great job.” It doesn’t have to be a party every time. Take the time to ask your remote employees how they prefer to be acknowledged for their accomplishments, and then do your best to provide them with that (within reason, of course).
Long-Term Strategies for Remote Employees
The success of remote employees depends on several things. Some are the quick and easy-to-implement tips we mentioned above, and others are things that may take more time and work on your part to implement.
However, they are all equally vital to your remote employees being happy and successful in their jobs, which improves everything for you.
Maintain Company Culture
It may seem as if company culture is something that doesn’t exist when working remotely. You are not in the office together, so there isn’t much of a culture to keep going.
Wrong! Company culture arguably becomes even more important when working remotely. One of the downsides of working remotely is that employees often get lonely and feel detached from the team. To keep this to a minimum, you must find new and creative ways to keep the culture and sense of the team alive.
Here are some suggestions.
- Share a weekly round-up. Send an email out to your employees weekly that shows how they used company values in their work.
- Allow for peer recognition. Give employees a way to give kudos to coworkers that are doing a great job.
- Establish a newsletter. Show everyone what’s going on with different departments to create a feeling that everyone is working together.
- Utilize Slack. Tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams allow employees to bond over things that aren’t always related to work.
- Host virtual social events. Though you may not meet in person for a drink, schedule a happy hour or game night that employees can tune into virtually.
When working remotely, you may not be able to pick up on your employees’ exhausted energy the same way you may be able to at the office.
That’s why you need to schedule check-ins with your employees to see how everything is going. This could be a weekly occurrence where you talk about their progress and what challenges they are facing. During this time, you can also ask about personal matters. This helps to keep your connection with your employees strong.
The switch to remote work can be challenging for some, especially if your employees have kids at home or have a less-than-ideal space for working. It is a transition that many have made over the last year.
Thus, you must keep in mind that working from home can pose some challenges, especially in the beginning, and you should empathize with your team and voice it to your employees.
Allow some time for remote employees to work out the kinks, be patient, and check in with what they need.
It seems as if more and more companies are going towards allowing employees to work remotely at least part of the time, so even if your company isn’t there yet, you need to prepare for this.
Remote work is the future, and it doesn’t have to be stressful if you know how to approach it. This guide gives you the tools you need to make the management of remote employees as smooth as possible.
Speaking of tools, there are plenty of other HR tools that you may find helpful in your transition to remote work. We’ve compiled a list of the best HR software and our reasons why we love them.
Additionally, consider learning more about conducting successful conference calls since those will be a big part of your remote work and will look different than they did in the office. We have put together a complete guide here on how to master conference calls from your iPhone.