All we do is talk about smart working: a way of understanding the profession in a 2.0 key that eliminates the constraint of physical presence in the office and opens the doors to work remotely.
A practice that until a few years ago might have seemed utopian, and which today seems instead the normal evolution of the contemporary era, made up of “device always on”, maximum bilateral flexibility and attention to the work-life balance of employees.
A revolution that began timidly, with a few pilot projects launched by the most daring companies, and has become very widespread today: this is how some professionals, including managerial ones, have freed themselves from their physical location and work completely delocalized.
After all, with the affirmation of technological development that has equipped us with at least one smartphone each, a PC and a 24/7 connection, who needs a desk?
What is needed, when deciding to undertake remote work, however, is a set of clear rules, so as not to risk slipping into the swamps of low productivity.
If remote working has positive implications for the company – save on logistics costs and be able to hire talents from all over the world – and for employees – be able to manage their own time – there are not a few pitfalls that risk wrecking the project.
So here are some tips to better manage your employees who work remotely.
1. Clarify the rules
An employee who works remotely is not under the direct visual control of his boss. An unusual condition of independence that can make it difficult for the leader, who feels he does not have the pulse on the resource, and the employee, who does not know what freedoms he can take during the “traditional” hours.
This is why it is important to build the working relationship remotely on trust and transparency, sharing mutual expectations and tracing the perimeter of possibilities. How many days can you stay out of the office? Are there any physical appointments that you must attend? What type of hourly coverage to ask the resource? How will communications with the team be handled?
A series of preliminary checks that can reveal even small gaps and organizational deficiencies, favoring their recovery.
2. Define your goals
One of the keys to better interpreting agile work is to proceed by objectives.
A logic that is not always widespread in the workplace. It is not uncommon, in fact, that an employee’s performance is measured on time (the employee who is late at the desk is rated as productive) and that resource engagement occurs as needed (Is there an emergency this evening too? Everyone in the boss’s office and let’s start yet another meeting at 9 pm).
A productive smart working resource, on the other hand, must be able to work by objectives and tasks predefined. Only by clarifying which tasks are to be completed at the end of the day can the resource schedule his commitments and get the most out of agile work.
Implementing this logic requires great effort on the part of the leader, who must have clear medium-term objectives and tasks, and maximum mutual organization.
3. Fine-tune the technology
Remote working is only possible with optimal technological support: a delocalized team must be able to share the same tools and be able to communicate effectively in real time.
For this reason, before starting the remote work project, make sure you have a suite of technological tools shared among the resources : the same video call program for everyone (e.g. Skype for Business), the same instant messaging tool for flash communications, a platform for sharing documents and archiving materials (such as Dropbox) and project management programs to follow concert activities (e.g. Trello).
In addition to managing ordinary work, also implement some small tricks to make meetings productive: such as placing a PC with an active videoconferencing program next to you, to give connected employees remotely a view of the table as if they were actually seated. Or like that of always define a back-up number to call in case of connection failure.
In fact, due to the nth lack of a telephone line, the temptation of physical participants in a meeting is to go ahead without waiting for colleagues outside the office: a practice that is extremely harmful to the productivity and efficiency of the team, as well as demotivating.
4. Do not give up contact
One of the risks of working remotely is that of the exclusion of the employee from the relational logic typical of office life and the gradual separation between leader and resource.
To make agile work truly satisfying it is important to maintain contact.
How? By defining precise checkpoints to evaluate the progress of the work and take stock of the activities: schedule daily meetings (the 5 pm call to verify that all activities are addressed) and weekly (a video call on Monday morning to schedule the tasks).
Don’t forget to use as many means of communication as possible: relying on a simple email, even if more immediate and hasty, can flatten the communication and, over time, make it impersonal.
To nurture the team spirit, don’t forget to organize informal post-work socializing moments from time to time.
The award for leaders who can manage employees remotely? Having teams happier, more motivated and much more grateful and loyal to the organization: research says it!