More businesses across industries and sizes are realizing the benefits that remote working has to offer. Last year saw a 26 percent increase in open remote job postings and 83 percent of hiring managers said telecommuting would be “more prevalent in the next five years.” 

The Best Person for the Job

Even with this increase in adoption, managing employees that are scattered across the country — or globe — can be a challenge. Instead of walking over to an employee’s desk to hash out an idea or talk through a project, teams communicate via instant messaging, phone or videoconferencing. This can seem like a deterrent for some companies, but it shouldn’t be. 

According to a survey from ConnectSolutions, 45 percent of remote workers sleep better, 35 percent exercise more and 42 percent have healthier diets. Fifty-three percent of respondents also claim that remote working reduces stress.

For companies looking to hire, expanding the search beyond office geography can bring in quality candidates that otherwise would have been overlooked. If the best engineer for the job lives in Boston, but the company is headquartered in San Francisco, the solution shouldn't be hiring a local candidate who won’t be able to do the job as well. Most business owners would agree that the job should go to the most qualified person, yet they fear that hiring remote employees results in a lack of communication and collaboration. 

Clear Communication is the Name of the Game

With the right combination of tools and communication policies, any company can implement a successful work-from-home program. Here are a few basic best practices to get the most out of a remote workforce:

  1. Encourage videoconferencing: This can be one of the harder habits to get used to, but one of the most beneficial. While not every conversation or meeting needs to occur via video, it's important that employees see one another from time to time. This helps foster closer relationships between teams. And with free options out there, including Skype and Google Hangouts, the price is right.
  2. Use an instant messenger: Just because everyone isn’t in the office doesn’t mean communication should suffer. Chatting by instant messaging is a good way to share quick updates or ask questions throughout the day, which negates the need to hold meetings that take up more time than needed.
  3. Give everyone a clear view of project progress: Cloud-based project management tools, such as Basecamp, provide a central location for status updates so everyone can instantly see where things stand. Managers can use these tools to assign tasks, communicate updates and track progress. These tools also help cut down on inbox disorganization, which means less time wasted on sorting through archives to find conversations or files.
  4. Make face time a priority: Even though teams are constantly collaborating with the help of tools, bring everyone together periodically. Quarterly on-site meetings encourage team bonding and build camaraderie, which is critical for maintaining overall employee satisfaction.

The ConnectSolutions survey also found that email is the most used remote communication method, followed by instant messaging, videoconferencing and VoIP/Skype. Mobile devices with growing desktop-like functionalities are also empowering remote workers — at home and in the field — with 40 percent of those surveyed able to conduct at least half of their total workload on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. 

By implementing clear communication policies, providing effective collaboration tools and making sure they’re being used, managers can easily oversee a successful remote workforce. And by extending the talent pool beyond office borders, companies will reap a more qualified, capable and diverse workforce that continue proving their worth for years to come.

Title image by Jordan McQueen