In an ever-connected world, remote work models have become common in numerous industries, says Mark Zokle. Marketing, IT, and sales are three areas where it’s not necessary to be in a brick and mortar setting five days a week. Allowing employees to work remotely is a smart decision that can bring about increased productivity, higher employee satisfaction, and lower overhead costs. However, for all its merits, managing a mobile workforce presents a few challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve success.
In a remote work situation, the hiring process is different than in a traditional office environment. According to Mark Zokle, it’s much more challenging to assess potential employees’ skills and ability to work with minimal direction. Skype is an invaluable tool for the interview process. However, if the preference is for workers within a drivable range of the office, a final in-person meeting will help each party feel more comfortable about the decision.
Mark Zokle asserts that clear communication is essential in a remote work environment. Many companies use project management software such as Jira to distribute assignments and track workflow and productivity. Many have built-in instant messaging programs that allow private conversations as well as virtual chat rooms for employee brainstorming sessions, says Mark Zokle. Texting is also a perfectly acceptable means of communication, especially in fields where employees may be on-the-go more often than in front of their computer.
A manager must assume the responsibility of ensuring employees are fully set up with an integrated mobile office. Mark Zokle explains that the company is responsible for laptops, printers, mobile routers, and other necessary equipment. Employees who are required to be on call should also be given a company cell phone. Contract workers should provide their own standard equipment.
Making the shift from an office to a full- or part-time remote workforce is a rewarding way to increase profits and strengthen employee morale.