Impact not hours, autonomy over authoritarianism. These are key motivators for today’s workforce and recent research suggests they make sound commercial sense too.
Remote working boosts recruitment and improves staff retention. It cuts out long commutes, saving time and money and, by giving people the chance to personalise the way they blend work and life, it has an overwhelmingly positive effect on enthusiasm and loyalty.
But the benefits come with some challenges; it isn’t right for everyone, or for every position.
To build a successful flexible working environment, you need people who are equipped for the reality of working at home. You also need managers who are trained to support their teams from afar.
When you recruit an office based role, you usually look for someone with the right personality to complement your existing team. While those characteristics are still important for remote workers, there are a number of other traits that people need if they’re going to be successful.
Keeping an employee on track is much easier when you spend a lot of time with them. Working at home has a different set of distractions, so people need to stay focused, be disciplined, remain productive and complete their daily tasks over and over, without anyone telling them what to do.
One of the most important traits of any successful remote worker is their ability to communicate. To counter the lack of personal interaction with colleagues, people have to be experts at reaching out on email and the telephone. They need to know how to understand and share important pieces of information in a clear and concise way, to avoid any unnecessary confusion.
The main benefit of working remotely is that you set your own schedule. To an employer, this means you need to find people who can manage their own time, prioritise, be organised, understand the importance of each task, and make sure they are always available to speak to others when they need to cooperate.
Generally speaking, there are two types of remote worker. The first follows instructions to the letter and comes back with question after question whenever they are unsure about anything. More preferable, however, is someone who understands the big picture and knows the most important thing is to get the job done. They have the aptitude to use their initiative, overcome challenges and do whatever it takes to complete a project on time.
People who value results first make good remote workers because they’re comfortable with defined goals and happy to be accountable for the outcome of their work. Often, they also put together detailed plans of action, so everyone understands who is responsible for what and by when.
Spending most of their time alone, on a laptop, tablet or phone, remote workers have to be able to understand technology. They need to know how key pieces of software work and be able to fix small IT problems without pulling constantly on the resources of your technical support team.
Passionate about your vision
You must make sure remote workers are joining your team for the right reasons. Not all workplaces are flexible and a lot of people will apply for a remote role because it suits their personal circumstances rather than they love the opportunity. Your need to find people where a home based role works for their personal life, but they also have genuine passion for your business and it’s mission.
There’s a common misconception that remote working is less productive than being office based. While there’s always a risk that employees could abuse the system, in the majority of cases it leads to high returns.
Not everyone is cut out for the responsibility but, if you focus on finding the right people, they will help to make your business a success.
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