How to manage remote staff and flexi workers

Blonde woman sitting on her bed whilst working on her laptop

Thanks to the digital age, the way we’re working is changing.

58 per cent of workers believe that working away from the office would help them be more motivated, according to a 2018 study (source: Powownow). When it comes to millennials, 80 per cent value flexibility over salary.

Whilst offering employees the chance to spend more time away from the office might sound detrimental to your business, the reality is far from it. Studies show that flexibility and remote working not only increases productivity, but also boosts staff wellness, resulting in less sick leave, longer hours and a happier work force.

A flexible workforce can benefit both employer and employee. But often employers are reluctant to implement flexibility over concerns about how to manage staff.

In my experience, flexible work can be hugely beneficial to your business – if managed properly. So, follow these tips to make sure you manage a happy, healthy, flexible work force:

Understand your employees’ commitments

Employees are not nameless numbers in your business, they’re human beings. Which means that, whilst they value your company, they also have other commitments. Understanding what your employees’ commitments are and designing a work structure that compliments both their personal commitments and the needs of your business will benefit both parties. Whether it’s allowing staff to work from home one day a week or juggling their schedule around the school run, flexible working not only demonstrates trust in an employee, but also inspires loyalty by demonstrating that you care about the wellness and lives of your team.

Set targets and structure

Flexible and remote employers can still benefit from structure. Set clear targets and define the boundaries of flexible working to ensure that both employer and employee know what is expected of them. For example, does your sales person need to make five prospective calls a week from home? Or, if being available 10am-2pm is crucial, then set these as your core hours and offer flexitime outside this period.

Implement structure with online tools

There are plenty of tools available to help you to manage your remote staff. For those managers that are nervous about how remote staff spend their time, HourStack is a great online tool – employees can fill out how they’ve spent their day right down to the minute to build up detailed timesheets. For project management, there’s Monday, a team management software that lets you allocate and see the progress of tasks within a project. And communication tools such as Slack and Lync allow you to be in touch with your employee in an instant. The beauty of the internet means that many of us simply need a laptop and a wifi connection to work, and the same goes for managers – so make the most of the online tools available.

Establish regular contact time

Whilst communication is crucial for any working relationship, it’s all the more important for remote and flexi staff. Establishing regular catch-ups ensures employees remain on target whilst also allowing time for feedback and progress updates. Weekly or twice weekly calls or face-to-face meetings will continue the personal feel of your management style without being too overbearing.

About the author

Amanda Walls is Director at Cedarwood Digital. Amanda has worked in digital marketing for over a decade, working as Head of Digital for a digital agency before launching her own boutique agency Cedarwood Digital last year. In addition to her client work, Amanda also works with Google’s Digital Garage to provide digital marketing skills training to SME’s and start-ups.

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