Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 Extremes That Are Killing the Productivity of your Telecommuting Employees

By Julie Fredrickson

Whether you have a few employees occasionally working at home, or an entire staff working remotely, there are some extreme management techniques that can kill your employees’ productivity.

Managing Out of Fear
If you have a good employee who is performing well, and meeting their requirements, you are doing well. Constantly checking up, interrogating, or otherwise showing you do not trust them to do their job will decrease their productivity, morale, and performance. There may be a tendency of not trusting remote employees to do their job because of a lack of visibility. This should be avoided unless warranted. Don't allow this to be your default perspective.  

Giving Too Much Rope

While checking in with your employee every five minutes is an obvious productivity killer, throwing caution to the wind isn’t the right choice either.  You can show your employees you trust them, and still hold them accountable for their production.  Assign projects with deadlines, track metrics, and/or assign tasks as required. Setting goals, assigning projects, and checking progress keeps your employees accountable. 

Coming to the Office too Frequently

If possible, a monthly, in-office workday is a an ideal way to keep employees engaged and connected to the rest of the workforce.This may include training, and/or one-on-one coaching. 

Any more than once per month often requires the need for two workspaces, which eliminates the company's benefit to telecommuting, due to additional equipment costs paying floor space.  What is an alternative?  Taking advantage of the mobility that technology offers! 

Inadequate communication

An at-home work environment can isolate staff from the corporate experience.  If you are a leader of a remote workforce, you must connect with staff in meaningful ways.  This goes further than a phone call.  Embrace the technology that connects us. Team  conference calls and  video conferencing are great options. Find ways to promote team unity and bridge the divide between the remote and office teams.

Assuming the Worst

Do you want your team to trust you?  If you are assuming the worst (they aren’t working, or are squandering away their day on social media), then you aren’t ready for this responsibility or you have failed to recruit and train a quality staff.  Either way, if you don’t trust them, it is unlikely they trust you, and that is a culture killer.  Make the decision to trust this process before you begin, or risk sabotaging your team, their morale, and yourself.

Failing to Monitor Change, Compare Performance, or Follow Up on Assignments

If your at-home work program begins with a probationary period on-site, or your employees started on-site, be sure to hang on to their performance measurements.  You may be surprised to see your remote worker performs much better in the comfort of their own home. If the opposite is true, you will be able to make decisions about their future based on comparison of performance metrics.

If your at-home workforce performs similar duties as an on-site team, compare performance.  There is no reason why expectations should vary based on where an employee’s workspace is located.  They should be held to the same standard, and they should perform at the same standard.

The key to a high performing, at-home workforce, is balance.  Build trust and relationship, set goals and expectations, and let go of fear.  Recruit the right people and train them well. Trust them to do their job, and embrace the technology available to you.  Have a plan and don’t be afraid to alter the plan if the need arises.  Most of all, be weary of the extremes that could kill productivity.

Julie Fredrickson is a Remote Workforce and Employee Engagement Specialist with a diverse background in Customer Service working at such companies as Walgreens, Mayo Clinic Health System, and All-Calls Call Center Outsourcing. 

A Minnesota Native and Rasmussen College graduate, she can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter 

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