Benefits and Compensation

Allowing Remote Work: What NOT to Do

As more and more indications are found that employees value the opportunity for flexible scheduling and remote work, employers are finding the need to handle these benefits effectively. While some employers have allowed remote work for years, others are new to the game and finding that there are a lot of potential pitfalls to avoid.

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Let’s take a look at some of the things employers should be careful NOT to do when managing employees who work remotely. Employers should not:

  • Overlook remote employees for opportunities. Just because an employee is not at the same work site as the person evaluating the team doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Train managers to be sure to give equal consideration.
  • Assume employees working from home will be less productive. There are plenty of reasons to actually assume that remote workers will be more, not less, productive than if they worked at the employer’s worksite. But the myth still persists that if someone is out of sight, they may be inclined to work as little as possible. The easy way around this is to measure productivity and output just as you would for any other employee, without making assumptions.
  • Assume that if a remote worker isn’t instantly available that it means they’re slacking off or not working. Remember, that remote employee has meetings and conference calls just like everyone else; just because they didn’t pick up when you called doesn’t mean they’re not working.
  • Skip out on scheduled meetings to discuss the employee’s projects. The only way to stay up-to-date on what’s going on is to proactively stay informed. Schedule and keep regular status updates.
  • Be harder on remote employees. It can be tempting to let biases get in the way—and some people, as noted above, tend to assume that remote workers aren’t working as hard as others. In these cases, situations can result where remote workers are treated unfairly for no reason.
  • Assume the employee isn’t having any problems just because you don’t see them. On the opposite side of the coin, it’s also not fair to just turn a blind eye to any potential problems. In fact, the employer may have to be more diligent to ensure remote workers are doing well and don’t need further assistance. It may also be tougher to recognize burnout and stress, but just as important to look for it.
  • Create a one-size-fits-all flexible or remote work option. Spoiler alert: one size doesn’t fit all. There are lots of ways to implement flexible or remote working arrangements, and they’re not necessarily interchangeable. For example, one employee may benefit from simply shifting the standard workday to start later, while that same flexibility may be of no use to someone who needs to schedule his or her work around other daily activities. Still others may need truly remote work that can be done at any time, from any place. While the organization may not be able to meet everyone’s needs, they also should not assume that one option will be a catch-all.
  • Forget to include remote employees on impromptu meetings or employee events. While it’s possible that the remote employees will be unable to attend, it’s still important they’re invited and not left out.
  • Forget to recognize the accomplishments of remote employees. Just as we noted above not to overlook remote employees for promotions, it’s also important not to overlook them when doling out recognition or awards.
  • Skimp out on making technology available to allow the employee to do their job effectively and efficiently. For example, the employee may need to have software to allow communication with the team. He or she may need to have a VPN to allow secure access to company files. They may need a phone, even if one wasn’t previously provided.

Does your organization allow employees to work remotely? What else would you add to this list?

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