Training companies pay close attention to the rapidly changing workforce. With change comes training initiatives, and with an increasing number of employees working offsite, training on how to manage those employees has become imperative. Just a few years ago, 34 million Americans occasionally worked remotely, and that number is expected to jump to 63 million by the middle of this decade! Given the increasingly global nature of today’s organizations – as well as improvements in technology that facilitate virtual training/collaboration and a workforce that insists on more flexibility and independence – this trend is likely to keep gaining momentum.
By improving your ability to manage offsite employees, you will empower yourself and your organization in many ways. You will see an increase in the organization’s need to find the right talent for a job to ensure your team is cohesive and productive. This will start by finding the right training company to assist with your recruitment process – and also knowing the key characteristics of an offsite employee.
Imagine how the various training companies Los Angeles , New York City, Chicago and various other cities mange their employees. Your not alone others have felt this way, but at least there is help.
First, let’s review the benefits and challenges of having offsite employees.
Challenges and commonly asked questions:
- Offsite employees have more flexibility, more independence, and a better work-life balance.
- Managers can recruit and select the best people for a job no matter where they are located.
- According to the Telework Research Network, organizations can save billions of dollars a year as a result of reduced expenditures for office space, utilities, and equipment as well as decreased employee absenteeism and turnover.
- Since working remotely appeals to many employees, this arrangement can attract quality workers, boost morale, and increase employee retention.
- How do I make sure people are working productively when I do not see them every day?
- How can I coordinate meetings when people are in different time zones and have different schedules?
- How do I encourage teamwork and interaction among dispersed team members?
- How do I ensure that information stays private and secure when it is being accessed and shared remotely?
Staying Connected with a Dispersed Workforce
The specific tools an offsite employee needs depends on the nature of the job. But there is some technology and equipment that nearly everyone needs to be successful when working remotely.
These must-have tools include:
Offsite employees might also need:
- A computer
- Internet access, preferably wireless
- Access to the organization’s intranet and messaging systems (SMS, IM, voicemail, email)
- Dedicated phone line(s), fixed and/or mobile
- Easy access to help desk or IT professionals in case of questions or malfunctions
- Cloud-based service for sharing files
- Webcam and headset/microphone for video conferences
- Remote desktop access
- Photocopier, printer, and scanner
Managers and employees earn one another’s trust by showing they can be counted on. They are honest, truthful, and open with one another. They behave with integrity. They are consistent, do what they say they will do, and demonstrate respect for one another.
Here are some tips for keeping offsite employees in the loop and creating a sense of belonging to the staff community:
- Have an open-door policy. Be available when offsite employees have questions or need help (and designate a substitute if you can’t be around).
- Establish a check-in policy. Work with employees to set up a reporting or check-in procedure.
- Communicate clearly and often. (We will explore this in depth in the next section.)
- Watch your tone. Be aware of the tone you use in verbal and written communications.
- Share certain information face-to-face. Convey negative or sensitive information, such as feedback on poor performance, in person- not in an email or a phone call. Written and voice-only communication lack the critical nuances provided by body language and facial expressions.
- Don’t make it personal when things go wrong. Focus on the problem, not the person.
- Treat offsite employees fairly. They should have the same conduct and performance guidelines, obligations, and opportunities as onsite employees.
- Make sure employees have easy access to relevant data. This includes team schedules, status reports, and company information (such as changes in policies, procedures, organization, and leadership).
- Select the most appropriate type of communication for the situation. Considering the subject matter and the purpose, decide whether it would be best to use email or chat, leave a voicemail, have a phone conversation, or set up a face-to-face meeting.
- Accommodate communication preferences when possible. Does the employee prefer writing or talking for regular communication?
- Ask specific, open-ended questions. Instead of asking “How is everything?” ask, “What do you think you could do to…?"
Don’t forget to hold virtual meetings!
Meetings serve as vital functions for any team. They help to share information, solve problems, brainstorm ideas, make decisions, and foster team building. When all or some team members work offsite, particularly when they are in locations that make frequent in-person meetings impractical, virtual meetings can accomplish many of these functions. Fortunately, technologies such as phone conferencing, video conferencing, and meeting software make it possible for people to interact by voice or even face-to-face from diverse locations
Want to know what training/meeting platforms might work best at your organization? Read our "Top Virtual Training Classroom Platforms" blog.
Follow these best practices for managing offsite employees in order to help them meet their goals and contribute productively to your team:
- Make sure that the individuals and their jobs are suitable for offsite work.
- Provide employees with the tools they need to do the job.
- Establish and maintain mutual trust.
- Prepare employees thoroughly to set them up for success.
- Work with employees to develop relevant, achievable goals.
- Clarify expectations.
- Provide ongoing support and feedback.
- Address problems early, before they escalate.
- Communicate clearly and often, and make sure that other team members do the same.
- Find ways to help offsite employees feel that they are a vital part of the team and the organization.
By being prepared to manage offsite employees, you can help position your organization for success. Still weary of managing offsite employees? Your organization will benefit greatly by enlisting the help of TrainingFolks’ on-demand certified training consultants to help with this initiative.