Can you believe it’s 2019 already? For some of us, that was a year we only thought possible in science fiction movies; but ready or not, it’s here. For many of the clients we’ve talked to, it’s finally time to quit dealing with remote work as something aside from their normal planning, and to make it a standard part of how things get done in their companies.
The truth is if your organization hasn’t thought about remote and distance work as a strategy, it’s well past time. According to telework.gov, federal employee participation in telework in FY13 was 27%. By FY16 that number had increased to 34%. Across the US, the number of employers offering a work from home option has grown by 40% just in the past five years!
So, having a plan is great and all, but what exactly should that look like? Here are some of the factors you should be taking into account:
Recruiting and Hiring
If remote work is going to be an expectation, do you have the tools in place to find the right people? This should include honest, accurate descriptions of the job to be done, as well as an understanding of the work styles and experience level it will take to be successful.
Onboarding and integration into teams
Many organizations have learned that hiring remote workers is easy—onboarding them in a way that engages them and helps them be productive quickly is another issue. Bringing new employees into the fold when they don’t come to the office every day will require intentionally helping build relationships. This can be peer coaching and mentoring, a “buddy” system, or (like we do) “get to know each other” calls with every member of the team.
Career paths and succession planning
Many organizations view remote workers (especially contractors and part-timers) as interchangeable parts. Studies show that one of the most important factors in employee engagement is having a sense of where you fit into the larger organization, and that there is at least the possibility of a long-term, positive relationship.
Training for short and long term success
When hiring people, it’s critical to teach them what they need to know to do the work right now. Once that’s begun, however, the needs expand. What are the job-specific skills they need to learn? What are the other (sometimes called soft skills) that will help them achieve success in the long run? While the company may have a process in place for creating development plans, long-distance employees express greater dissatisfaction with this process than their peers who work in the office. Whether this is because the managers have more opportunities to identify strengths and weaknesses with daily exposure to someone’s work, or it’s merely a perception on the part of the remote worker, this gap needs to be intentionally addressed.
Goal setting and performance management
Does the employee really know what is expected of them? How often will their manager check in, and what are the standards against which their performance will be measured? Again, companies think they do a better job with this than they really do.
Before 2019 starts barreling along, have you taken the time to examine your plan for remote work?
If you want to catch up and make sure your team is ready for remote work, I certainly encourage you to check out the rest of this site as well as our YouTube channel. We’d also like to help you understand the world of Long-Distance Leadership and what it entails. Contact us and set up a conversation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager
Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.
Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership.