Flexible working has created a buzz amongst business, with employees and employers alike enjoying the many benefits to come with it. From the ability to tip the work/life balance in your favour right through to the ability to take jobs without having to relocate your family, it’s easy to see why people want flexibility.
In the past, it has perhaps been the case that management challenges have got in the way of this. Yet smarter systems and technology have enabled businesses to offer this and, in turn, boost their recruitment and retention efforts.
Yet the fact that technology allows you to be more nimble as a business is one thing – coming up with a plan to capture that opportunity is another and that’s why careful thought needs to be paid to how this works in practice.
Regardless of where your remote employees are located, it’s important that they know you’re still part of the team. Having staff both in and outside of the office can create a ‘them vs us’ attitude, often resulting in a rivalry that can easily cause tension. While healthy competition in small doses can be motivating, nobody wants to work for a company that feels divided.
Promote collaborations by getting in-house and remote staff to work on projects together to encourage regular communication between your employees. This will ensure everyone is on the same wavelength, working together rather than apart no matter where you are in the world.
As well as collaborating on projects, scheduling regular video conferences into your employees’ calendars is a great way of keeping on top of communication. You’re less likely to forget or put it off if you set up a routine for them, such as holding a team meeting every week.
Holding individual video conferences allows you to have a one-to-one with staff, although how regular they are depends on the size of your team. If you’re just spending a couple of weeks away from the office, one or two calls may be enough to manage your team.
It’s not just meetings that should be organised in advance. Have a chat with your team to get rid of any confusion about any processes that will need to go through you. They won’t be able to walk up to your desk to ask a question or hand over a piece of work, so having a clear system in place could save a lot of time and confusion.
A cloud-based system allows you to submit and share work from anywhere in the world, showing changes to work as they happen. Having such a system in place will enable you to check your employee’s work and they’ll be able to submit it straight to you without confusion.
The ultimate flexible workforce in the modern day spans continents let alone different towns and cities – and the fundamentals above hold true wherever your employees might happen to be based. Yet, it may well pay enlist third party help to smooth over any extra cultural and legal hurdles that could come from international working. If you’re thinking about expanding your business to America, for example, you may want to consider enlisting the support of an employee management service.
From hiring staff to ensuring they have the right benefits package in place, you might need expert support to bridge the HR gap. This allows you to expand your business without running up substantial costs or dealing with a weighty amount of paperwork – and leaves you free to focus on the communication, process and administrative challenges outlined above.
Finally, whether you’re the one working outside of the office or you have a whole team of remote workers, it’s good to get together once in a while. Doing so will allow you to see how the team are getting on as well as giving them time to discuss any issues they might want to raise in person.
Annual events like Christmas parties are a good way of boosting productivity and morale amongst the team, giving them something to strive for during the year. If a big company meeting isn’t possible in person, try popping into the office on occasion or visiting any field workers at their location for a catch-up. Technology can help with many things, but nothing quite beats the personal touch from time to time.