Having a member of your staff working from a restaurant, on the beach or from a house in the country AND on top of that, located abroad, seemed impossible only ten years ago.
But technology has changed the way we communicate with others; it has also changed business interactions and with it; workflow.
Some businesses remain skeptical about remote working, but there is evidence that shows production can and does increase when staff work remotely.
In 2014 the co-founders of Chinese travel website Ctrip allowed some of their workers to work remotely on a regular basis, they then compared their productivity to the workers who remained working at the company’s office.
The remote workers ended up making 13.5 percent more calls than their comparable office workers, which is almost the equivalent of a full extra day of a regular work week.
Some of the Pros of working with a remote worker ;
- Saving money
- Less office space
- Employees use their own computers (bought from their own pockets).
- Utilities, reducing expenses in electricity, office supplies, and janitorial services.
- Fewer call-ins and unexpected absences.
According to a study sponsored by collaboration software company PGi, companies that switched to telecommuting full time saved $10,000 per employee per year in real estate costs. If you think about how many employees you have, there is enormous potential for savings and subsequently, higher profits.
The best part is that, not only do companies save money but also so do their employees. According to the same study, two billion gallons of gas could be saved annually by a U.S workforce of telecommuters.
Then there is the huge boon of waving goodbye to the stress of commuting to work.
Employees who work remotely feel more productive, happy and connected with their jobs. Working remotely gives them a sense of freedom. Knowing that they can be located anywhere, they choose as long as they´re working well, makes them feel valued.
Another benefit of remote workers is that you now have a much wider pool of talent to choose from.
You don’t have to limit your HR team to finding an ideal candidate with the right qualifications plus, who must also ‘live’ within a commute of your office. Do you have good schools nearby?, How about low rents or luxury housing? These are no longer problems for your talent search when remote workers are a large part of your workforce..
You can find great, multilingual and experienced talent from different parts of the world who can have different perspectives and points of view. This can bring a refresh of new ideas to your company.
And those are just a few of the benefits; there are countless other benefits for employers and employees who choose to work remotely.
But of course, there are always Cons.
The pitfalls of this arrangement can be avoided if you know how to work effectively with a remote team. Create good habits, and you will reap the most out of the benefits of remote staff.
Habits to work productively with remote/virtual workers
1. Get informed about your local laws before hiring
Lack of clarity on the contractual implications of hiring remote workers can dissuade many companies.
Clearly, there is a need for a detailed contract. Not only the usual job spec and hours etc. but additional remote work specific points must be addressed.
This agreement needs to include all the legal rights and responsibilities of each entity involved.
You need to establish not only the salary but also the payment method.
You could start with a 2-week trial period to be sure the person is a good fit and that the workflow works for both parties before agreeing on a long-term commitment; these conditions need to be specified in the contract.
Make sure your future employee reads, agrees and signs the contract before you commence any working relationship. This will avoid the need to ’put right’ any glitches at a later stage
Additionally, confidentiality is very important for any company. Many employees have access to confidential and important documents that should not be shared under any circumstance with a third party, for this reason, we suggest you require all your future employees to sign a confidentiality agreement. The risk of an employee sharing documents is the same whether remote or in-house office employees. Therefore, every employee should sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
2. Having great communication
Communication is the core of a successful working relationship. Lack of communication with a remote worker can lead to problems. They are self-sufficient and so if there is any grey area they can tend to go and do what they ‘think’ you need, rather than what you DO need.
Therefore, you need to be very clear up front about how you’d like things done. There are workflow apps and software that help to keep your eye on the work as it develops. Learn to use them.
Make sure you communicate authority while also recognizing the effort and good work of your employee. This will keep them motivated while also expressing how you like things to be done.
3. Using the Right Communication Tools
Technology plays a big part in working remotely, and there is a great selection of resources and apps available. A quick search on Google will result in several tools that will help you communicate productively with your remote virtual workers.
When it comes to communicating online, there are familiar but basic tools, like WhatsApp, but there are so many other business-specific tools available.
Many have video conferencing, ability to share your screens remotely and even make edits to your worker´s files.
Separate work-related apps, from personal use apps. Keeping business and personal matters separate will help your workers concentrate and avoiding some of the distractions that affect our working lives
Here is a small list of tools and resources to help your workflow with a virtual team:
To chat and send small documents:
To make calls, video conferences and work online:
For screen sharing, computer management and sharing documents
Choose the ones that are a fit for your specific needs.
4. Plan Regular Meetings
Meetings are a great way to communicate and establish a constant flow of information and ideas. Of course, that is just as true for remote working. Just as in a face to face meeting, you may ask for results, give new responsibilities, explain processes, make sure they are ‘on board’ with your ideas and production.
Web meetings can be both scheduled or spontaneous. With effective communication, you don’t need to have long conversations every time you need something from your employee, with these tools you can give instructions or simply ask for tasks to be done in real time.
When looking for a person to work remotely, it is very important to find someone who is independent and a fast learner. Even if you find a highly experienced worker, there is still a period of adjustment, where they’ll need to learn how to communicate with you and learn how you like things to be done.
They will have to adjust to new software, apps and, resources. Every company has a different way of doing things, so make sure the person you choose can adapt quickly or otherwise time will be wasted.
Even though with this technology you can be available 24/7, the whole idea of hiring a virtual assistant is to take things off your workload and so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Training your worker will reduce that time.
5. Using Specific Software and Apps
The software your company utilizes will vary depending on your company niche and function. Just as you will need software to communicate remotely, you will also require project management (PM) tools.
PM software makes work more visible and so will make you feel more confident working with a person or a team remotely. Using a PM software is just as important as using a CRM program or a sales and marketing automation system for your business.
One highly recommended Project Management tool is TeamWork depending on your needs and budget.
Make sure your remote worker knows or learns how to use all these different tools and software before you start working together. Make it part of the recruitment process. That will save you a lot of time and reduce costly mistakes.
6. Managing Time
Time management is one of the biggest concerns companies have with remote workers. How do you know your employee is actually working the number of hours according to contract?
This is not as big an issue as you might think, there are time-tracking tools so you can track every step of the workflow.
But the best way to start a working relationship is with trust. Trust can be a great motivator for a good employee, you have had an interview and decided to trust this person to work for you, so why not allow them to feel that trust?
Of course, you will need some assurance, asking for a weekly work schedule or daily work plan.
With time tracking software you are covered.
These tools are great for time management, but remember to measure the success of your team by the goals they accomplish and the results.
7. Workflow Transparency
More important than tracking purely the time worked, is tracking results. Being able to see the employee’s work and results will help you feel more confident and secure about working with them remotely.
So, even though you do want them to be independent, you also need to be available to solve any doubts and to approve projects, helping them to close or move on to the next objective.
There are many ways to keep their work transparent, as mentioned before, having a PM program is the best way to have visibility and keep track of project development.
You can also ask them to work on Google Spreadsheets, for example, this way you will see in real time the updates to their work.
The type of job your remote worker is hired to do will help you decide if it’s better to pay for their services per hour or per project.
If you pay them per project, the number of hours they work is not such an issue. As long as the project is done well and within a certain timeframe, then you will be satisfied.
However, if you pay them per hour, it’s important to ask them to keep their work transparent with constant updates of tasks or assignments in the PM program, through email or Google Drive.
8. Setting Goals
Setting goals, timelines, due dates and what the deliverables expected are, is a great way to keep your employee’s work visible and also keeping them motivated and thriving for more.
It’s important that during your meetings, you discuss what comes next, and about how you see their role in future projects.
This will let them know that there is work in the future if they do well. It also tells them that you appreciate their efforts. That they are doing the job well.
The goals need to be related to the line of work they’ve been hired for, or oriented towards your employee’s areas of interest. Asking your employee what area of work they enjoy the most is a great habit to get into.
Your PM program will also help you with making their achievements visible with easy tracking.
9. Having Continuous Goal Oriented Motivation
Motivation is a potent weapon when it comes to leading teams; it doesn’t matter if they’re in the room next door or another country, motivation is a key to a happy, productive employee.
It can be financial of course. The use of bonuses depending on goals achieved is a great motivator.
Perhaps the hourly wage rises if they do a particular task well on time.
Or you can offer them more work in the future if they do well. Remote workers rise to this persuasion particularly well.
Always make sure to let them know you appreciate their effort and congratulate them every time they do something right. This verbal motivation will give your employees positive energy; they will want to be better and run that extra mile for you.
10. Investing in Personal Development
Training your employees is a great way not only to motivate them but also to make sure they are learning the new software or training that is needed in your work.
Training will bring benefits to their performance and therefore, to your business. Investing in certification and training means a better, productive and upwardly mobile workforce.
Remember, always motivate them to ‘learn’ more, dig a little deeper and look for self-improvement.
There is always a way to improve your knowledge, no matter what the subject.
Telecommuting is no longer a thing of the future; it’s the present.
You can take the workload off your desk and focus on growing your business by hiring a virtual assistant. You can also find great talent and save money by hiring remote workers abroad.
There are always pros and cons to every new venture, but the 10 habits listed above will help you increase productivity and make the hiring of remote workers feel quite natural.
Who knows? Maybe you will find your next superstar employee on Virtual Latinos?