By Isaac Kohen, founder and CEO of Teramind.
If you’re still weighing the benefits of a remote team, let’s get a few statistics out of the way. For employers, the cost savings and other benefits are clear. You save $10,000 on average in real estate with full-time teleworkers per year. And according to Owl Labs' 2017 State of Remote Work, "Companies that support remote work have 25 percent lower employee turnover than companies that don't."
For employees, the ability to ditch stressful commutes and traffic, reduce in-office distractions and get increased flexibility are reasons why many workers are turning to and pushing for remote working options.
A remote team can deliver many benefits for the employee and the employer. But when you don’t have a ringside view of your team and you can’t "keep an eye on" them, how do you ensure a high-performing, productive workforce?
Create an Engaging Employer Brand
As an entrepreneur, you are devoting significant time developing and ensuring a positive customer brand and experience. But have you considered your brand as an employer and the employee experience (from application to hire)? A strong employer brand is central to an engaged workforce. And engagement matters because engaged workers are enthusiastic about the work and, very crucially, are willing to invest discretionary effort at work. Consider mapping the employee journey much as you do the buyer or customer journeys so you can eliminate obstacles and fill in gaps.
Prioritize the Onboarding Experience
First impressions are powerful and your remote worker will form an opinion beginning on his or her first day. Are you winging it when it comes to structuring an employee’s first day? Or do you have a repeatable process for remotely inducing the employee with tasks such as paperwork, virtual manager one-on-one and team meetups and access to all required data and systems? Onboarding pays real dividends to you as a business owner as well. According to The Wynhurst Group,"22 percent of new employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days of hiring."
As you craft your employee journey, devote special attention to crafting the experience your new team member will have on the first day of remote working.
Measure the Right Thing
Productivity measurement is not the same thing as taking attendance. Clocking in and out is probably not the right thing to monitor. You want to measure production: support calls answered, sales-calls made, appointments booked and software code committed. Employee monitoring software can capture data about online activity to assist in productivity analysis. Your team leads should set goals for each remote worker, and these goals should be measured to determine organizational productivity.
Use Data to Identify What Is and Isn’t Working
Software can deliver many insights to help identify areas of strengths and weaknesses within your team. For example, error logs can pinpoint where users may be struggling and require more help to use an application. Employee monitoring software can also be used to pinpoint areas of struggle or cases where processes are broken or cumbersome. To get deeper insight into worker productivity, such monitoring software can help highlight high performers who might have tips and tricks to share about how they tackle work. Conversely, you can spot where others may need some additional coaching. You can also share this type of data with teams to help employees identify their most productive time of day and help you identify successful team managers.
Make Project Management Visible
With a dispersed workforce, you can’t rely on in-person check-ins to monitor progress. Furthermore, it’s important that all team members have access to contribute to and review project and task status. Cloud software products such as Slack, Trello, Asana and Basecamp can help you collaborate, manage tasks and stay informed.
Find Ways to Connect With Culture
A clear mission and guiding principles coupled with worker-to-worker connection are central components of your culture. Virtual team meetings with video conferencing can help establish connections, but these type of events are typically better suited for informational broadcasts and project updates. Consider more intimate and informal ways to build connections within your workforce. One-on-ones between team members and team leads, daily stand-ups within a team and virtual "happy hours" to celebrate a win are good options.
Finally, many organizations that are operating with a remote team do make the time and cost investment (maybe using some of those office-space dollars saved!) to bring the team together for a yearly retreat.
Isaac Kohen leads Teramind, an employee productivity monitoring and insider threat prevention platform.