Remote work has increased 115% since 2005 and it is predicted that 38% of full-time staff will be working remotely in the next decade. To provide insight into how and why remote work is an effective business strategy for a growing number of companies and teams, Remote.co has compiled feedback from 137 companies regarding common questions and answers on how to manage and operate effectively within a remote workplace environment.
“Forward-thinking companies are embracing remote work as a viable, modern business model that increases employee productivity, saves money, and broadens access to talent in a tight labor market,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder and CEO of Remote.co and FlexJobs. “Having run a fully distributed company for more than 11 years, I know first-hand that there are critical strategies and management techniques necessary to make remote work a success, whether it’s applied to one worker, a team, or an entire business. If done correctly and intentionally, remote work can be incredibly beneficial to the company’s success, bottom line, workers, and community,” Sutton Fell concluded.
The feedback below on how to optimize remote work represents insight from 137 remote companies and teams, and over 52,200 remote workers.
Big Picture of Remote Work
Overview: Nearly 3% of the total U.S. workforce work from home at least half of the time. The average telecommuter is 46 years or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, and earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker. Remote work is available across career levels and industries (top four are healthcare, computer/IT, education, sales).
Challenges: Preventing employee isolation and overwork; creating a healthy company culture; communication; coordinating across time zones; tracking worker accountability; managing legal/tax issues.
Benefits: Increased worker productivity and efficiency; higher employee morale; reduced employee turnover; real estate and overhead savings; access to a greater, more diverse talent pool; happier, healthier, and more engaged employees; avoiding disruptions in workflow (from weather, etc); better social and environmental stewards.
Tips for Working Remotely
Traits of effective remote employees: Self-starter; self-motivated; independent; proactive; self-aware; mature; strong written and verbal communication skills; time management skills; previous remote work experience; professionalism; tech savvy; observant; goal-oriented.
Collaboration/communication tools: Slack, Skype, Google Chat, Trello, Pivotal Tracker, Basecamp, Yammer, Hangouts, Skype, Zoom.us, GoToMeeting, join.me.
How to avoid distractions: Secure a dedicated work space in your home; incorporate breaks and exercise into your day; shut down social media; avoid meetings during your most productive hours; use noise-canceling headphones
Tips for Managing Remotely
Measuring productivity: Productivity is typically measured the same way in a virtual environment as it’s measured in an office: results, output, quality of work, manager feedback, and customer satisfaction.
Building relationships: Create a culture of trust and transparency; establish communication norms (for both synchronous and asynchronous needs); hold regularly scheduled meetings; have an instant “virtual office space;” annual face-to-face retreats; give real-time feedback; establish clear expectations and deliverables, use the right technology.
Creating company culture: Throw virtual parties and events; create virtual watercooler opportunities (like lunch hangouts, coffee breaks, books clubs); assign a buddy or mentor to new hires; embrace work flexibility; celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and milestones; highlight individual volunteer and humanitarian efforts.