Even so, remote work isn't just for tech companies. Recent Census Bureau data shows the average remote worker is an approximately 50-year-old college graduate who earns around $60,000 a year and works at a company with over 100 employees.
At LogoMix, over half of the team works from home. We're a tech company so that makes sense.
But still, certain jobs are more conducive to a work-from-home option than others. I've learned -- sometimes the hard way -- which types of jobs can be done remotely, and which need to be "office-present." I've learned to balance employee emotions regarding who is allowed to work offsite -- and if you don't think that's an issue, you haven't led a team made up of a mix of on-site and off-site employees.
I've also learned how to set goals for those working from home and to put in place an objective way to measure those goals so you can evaluate the quality and quantity of work-from-home output.
Sound like a lot? It's not. Let's start with the basics.
Roles Where Remote Work Makes Sense
First, consider the nature of the work and the nature of the interactions involved.
Jobs that are relatively "siloed," and that don't require significant cross-functional communication, are prime candidates for remote work. Those could include sales (a role that for decades has involved remote work) data analysis, copywriting, accounting, social media marketing, PR, web design and coding, to name a few.
While all those roles require some interaction with others, in large part those collaborations can be fairly brief, which means the work can be conducted remotely.
On the flip side, the higher up in the organization, the more the employee needs to be (literally) present. Granted, at larger organizations the CEO cannot be at every location; that's why someone is in charge at every location.
That's especially important in the early days of a startup, when the pace of change is incredibly fast -- and decisions need to be made just as quickly. The same is true for managers of large groups: face-to-face meetings with individual employees and with teams is easier -- and much more personal -- when you are in the office.
The key is to consider whether working in the office is truly important. Make sure you distinguish, "Well, it would be nice to have her here" reasons from, "It is critical to have her here" reasons. The difference could mean landing the perfect candidate for the role -- especially when it doesn't really matter where the actual work is performed.
One other note: there were times when our VP of Product and I were out of the office at the same time. So, we put plans in place regarding who would cover when we were not there. We didn't think our employees weren't capable of taking care of things, but we did have a "hit by a bus" scenario in place (and so should you).
How to Manage Remote Workers
What's the best way to manage remote workers? Focus on results, not on time. It's easy to wonder if remote workers are putting in their hours. It's easy to wonder if working from home means not actually working.
And, it's easy for employees who work at the office to wonder if their remote colleagues are working as hard.
How do you deal with that issue? Easy. Focus relentlessly on results.
Set specific, measurable goals. Set specific timelines. Require regular check-ins. Some companies expect remote workers to provide status updates at the end of each day. Others require weekly updates. Decide what makes the most sense for the role.
Then, set up weekly virtual meetings with your entire team. (Don't be tempted to settle for a monthly schedule; too much time passes in between.) Those meetings are a great way to get the entire team together, keep everyone up to speed, and let your entire team interact.
And then go one step further. Have a monthly meeting with every team member, both those in the office and those who work remotely. But don't just chat. Establish a format for those meetings. Have the employee give you updates on what they have done, but then turn things around. Ask how you can help.
Remember: While remote work may seem like a perk, certain aspects of telecommuting can still be hard. Your job as a leader is to make every employee's job easier so they can be as productive as possible -- and so your business can be as successful as possible.