Working from the comfort of your own home is more popular than ever. It became 22% more common over 2017, and by 2018 3.9 million Americans worked from home at least part-time.
The option is in staggeringly high demand among the young workforce as well -- 69% of surveyed workers born in 1981 or later said they would be willing to trade other work options, including benefits, for the opportunity to work remotely.
There is a wide range of benefits to remote work for both the employer and the employee, some of which may seem more obvious than others -- such as freedom for the employee to take care of children, take fewer sick days, and less money spent on a commute.
But it can also be great for mental and physical health as well. A FlexJobs survey found that employees reported remote work led to healthier lifestyles (with better eating habits, more exercise, etc), and 86% of employees reported less stress.
From a management perspective, remote work is excellent in terms of retaining talent. 76% of employees said they feel more loyal to their employers with a flexible work schedule, and companies that allow remote work on average have 25% less employee turnover.
76% of respondents said they'd be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Companies that allow remote work experience 25% less employee turnover than companies that do not allow remote work.
With that said, remote work is not without its own unique set of management challenges that can drive turnover. Let’s take a look at what you should be prepared for.
Provide Adequate Training and Support
Isolation is one of the most obstinate setbacks of remote work. Your employee can’t just pop over to a co-worker’s cubicle and ask for a quick piece of advice on a project.
Lack of adequate training and support is the most commonly reported reason remote workers terminate their employment, so it’s absolutely crucial you assure your employees are given everything they need from launch.
For this reason, it’s advised that you establish a routine and thorough onboarding process with efficient documentation to make sure any questions your new employees may have are answered. You’ll also want to make sure there’s always a clear line of communication with management so that if your remote worker runs into a snag of some kind, they can quickly address it without delaying progress.
Time Management Training
Another unique hurdle for remote workers is time management. Not everyone is equally skilled at keeping themselves on-task while working out of the office, surrounded by various distractions. Poor time management can lead to project delays and accidental dropoff in work quality.
This struggle can lead an employee to feel that they do not fit properly in the position, and result in turnover. To combat this, many corporations invest in time-management training for their remote workers. In addition, it’s prudent to invest in time management and project management software to keep your team on task.
Utilize Face-to-Face Interaction
Studies show that many managers rely on visual cues to trigger important management conversations, so it’s important to have face-to-face chats with your team. Bring employees to your building or home-office from time to time for face-to-face meetings if at all possible.
Even if there’s nothing urgent for your team to discuss, this will allow social interaction and team bonding, as well as an opportunity for your team to get on the same page. During the stretches when it’s unrealistic to meet face-to-face, utilize video-chat software as often as possible -- the simple ability to read a person’s facial queues can go a long way in clarity of communication.
Recognize Achievements, Offer Promotions
It can be easy to accidentally overlook your remote employees when it comes time for recognition and promotions. Many of them will be working so independently that you may forget they’re around.
But that doesn’t mean you should overlook their achievements or avoid crediting their work. Remember that employees who feel underappreciated will often begin to feel resentment, and that means they’ll start looking for other work.