1. Set clear goals
Remote managers need to manage goals and outcomes, not tasks. Goals need to be clear, and managers must communicate how outcomes are to be achieved. Meeting agendas have to be more focused and outcome-oriented, and participants must prepare properly.
2. Make the most of technology
Successful remote working depends on staff having the necessary devices and connectivity and knowing how to use them. Cloud-based applications can facilitate data access or printing, and there are monitoring and reporting applications for remote managers and employees.
3. Provide the right workplace tools
Remote workers often struggle to work at home because of distractions and lack of professional working facilities. Providing staff with access to professional workspace, close to their home or near where they are travelling, can encourage focus and productivity.
4. Communication is vital - just as it always was
Virtual meetings are easy to arrange. Ensure active participation and encourage feedback and opinion - with conference calls, especially, it's easy for participants to 'switch off'.
One-to-one communication is important too. Remote staff must feel their personal development is taken seriously, so regular scheduled sessions with managers to discuss progress and performance are essential.
5. Be overt about the new rules
New ways of working usually demand a revised contract setting out the parameters for both employees and managers. Remote working requires more reporting, and staff need to understand not just their goals, but the definitions of 'success' and 'failure', and what availability is required of them. Rewards and sanctions should be clearly set out.
6. Promote a corporate culture
It's important that remote staff feel a sense of belonging. Meetings and communication tools help with this; so does a rewards system that doesn't overlook the contribution of remote workers. Social events, away days and virtual workshops can also help employees interact and form productive relationships.
The days of the fixed-hours, fixed-location job are numbered. Today’s workforce expects flexibility and forward-thinking businesses are building this into their strategy. There will be some level of adaptation required as each party gets used to a set-up focused firmly on outputs rather than presenteeism. But all the evidence points to the fact that those businesses getting it right are enjoying significant rewards.