Managing employees who work from home

Working remotely is one way to work happy. And these days your best people can do great work from the place where they are happiest – their home.

Here are our tips for managing employees who work from home:

If none of your team telecommute at present, be prepared, it’s probably only a matter of time before they enquire about the idea. Mobile and internet technologies make work from home jobs viable, and cloud computing solutions allow employees to access everything they need right from their home office.

Managing employees who choose to work from home is much easier if you’re well prepared, and it pays to think through the scenario and come up with a remote-working policy for your company. Let’s see what’s involved.

Understand employees’ and job candidates’ motivation

Some of your current – and future – employees will be particularly keen to work from home. Everyone's reasons are different, but common motivations include:

  • Flexibility — the option to work from home can be appealing at times even to people who generally prefer working in-house.
  • Less travel — the savings on travel time and costs can make working remotely more than worthwhile for employees who face a long commute.
  • More travel — as working out of the home office means employees can get the job done from anywhere with an internet connection, phone and suitable equipment, the remote workforce can, within reason, travel whenever it likes.
  • Habit — if the top accounting and finance talent you’re trying to recruit are accustomed to working from home, you may have to offer a telecommuting option to attract their interest.
  • Personal fulfilment — one of the key drivers of workplace happiness is fairness and respect. When you demonstrate trust in your employees, your staff’s happy quotient increases.

Know how promoting work from home jobs help to benefit the company

There are some definite benefits to employing remote staff. As a guide, your business can:

  • Employ specialised finance and accounting staff, who live outside your usual region.
  • Stay operational 24/7 with remote staff spread across different time zones.
  • Maintain a more productive workforce.
  • Achieve higher long term retention rates.
  • Reduce absenteeism (happy employees tend to have fewer sick days).
  • Avoid the spread of colds, flu or other illnesses around the office.
  • Establish yourself as a progressive company committed to fostering workplace happiness.

Managing remote employees

To make telecommuting work for your team, you need to determine roles for which the ethos of work from home makes sense either full time, part time - or not at all. Define each position comprehensively and be clear about the responsibilities and expectations your remote employees must meet.

Communication, collaboration, security and other aspects of managing remote employees are all made easier — or made possible in the first place — by technology. Video conferencing is particularly useful, as it delivers almost as much impact as a face-to-face conversation; video chats and instant communication tools also help keep your employees sane by providing a stronger sense of social interaction.

Just because someone chooses to work from home doesn’t mean they don’t need well-developed soft skills. These employees must not only know how to interact productively and diplomatically in person, but also online. Be clear too about which security measures you expect remote workers to take whenever they collaborate online, to prevent hacking and phishing issues.

Employees who aren’t present in person still need to be present in spirit, so when you’re managing remote employees, be sure to keep them engaged and informed and continue to let them know their efforts are appreciated. Make appointments for regular talks with your remote team members, both in group settings and one-on-one, to keep everyone motivated and on the same page. If your remote workforce lives close enough to visit the office, invite them to come in at least once per month for larger meetings with the in-house team to encourage a sense of community and shared values.

Never leave employees out of the loop merely because they’re out of the office, especially since some of your future leaders may be among your remote workforce. For best results, balance remote workers' autonomy with plenty of interaction and positive feedback.

Providing the opportunity to work from home is a winning leadership strategy to attract and retain top talent. Read our related articles on promoting remote working and work life balance: 

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