As a result of the COVID-19 virus more businesses are being forced to move to a remote working environment. Since 2005 research shows that remote work has increased by 140%. Although many businesses might be finding this a challenge right now, many companies have already implemented a remote workforce. Prior to the virus, 3.2% of the American workforce - 4.3 million people were remote workers. Although remote working can be beneficial and with the right setup productive and profitable for employers, it does come with a few pitfalls – all of which can be overcome with knowledge and by using best practices.
Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work is increasingly becoming one of the best things an employer can offer and here's why:
It offers flexibility
40% of people perceive a flexible schedule as the most significant benefit of working remotely.
It increases job satisfaction
Remote workers are 57% more satisfied with their jobs.
It is environmentally friendly
Remote workers don't commute, which reduces air pollution. Remote working can reduce greenhouse gas emissions equal to the amount of 10 million vehicles generate.
It saves employers money
In 2015, employers saved $44 billion by allowing their employees to work remotely. This is because they don't incur costs related to working space, utility bills, hardware, and equipment.
It reduces employee turnover
Organizations that allow remote work report a 25% decrease in turnover rates.
Remote Work Challenges
1. Time Theft
It is a common issue in modern workplaces affecting 75% of businesses. One study reveals that US employers lose approximately $11 billion annually in lost productivity. Another research shows that 4.5 hours per employee is lost to time theft.
Time theft takes place when workers are paid for the time they did not work. It can take various forms, including buddy punching, taking long breaks, starting late, finishing early, and engaging in personal activities during work hours.
Remote workers have a high likelihood of engaging in time theft because they work away from the workplace under no supervision.
Ways to Combat Time Theft
2. Diminished Productivity
Remote work actually improves the productivity of workers. An Airtasker study revealed that remote employees work 1.4 more days per month compared to employees working in an office. Also, remote employees take longer breaks that boost their productivity.
However, working from home comes with a plethora of distractions. Regrettably, distractions are a huge productivity killer and can make working at home a nightmare. According to Buffer's 2019 State of Remote Working report, distractions at home ranked fourth in common problems affecting remote workers.
Below are common types of distractions for remote workers that you will need to consider:
- Household members can become a distraction
Make sure your remote employee has a dedicated workspace to perform their duties and a plan for at home child care (if applicable).
- Household chores are unavoidable
It is best to communicate to your employees a “work first” mind set. Don’t micromanage. If the work is getting done to a quality standard, take the win.
- Errands can consume working hours
Remind employees to run errands before and after work hours, or on their breaks just as they would if they were coming into the office.
- Increased use of technology at home
A good opportunity to redirect employees away from the TV and their phones. Consider using apps like Google Home and Alexa (to track time) which increases productivity.
Ways to Improve Productivity for Remote Workers
3. Managing Remote Workers
Employers can have problems managing workers from home and handling numerous remote staff can be overwhelming. You have to assign projects, schedule shifts, track progress, approve time sheets, send invoices, and track billables. Also, you have to keep these employees motivated and engaged to increase job satisfaction and reduce turnover rates.
Tips for managing remote workers
- Create open communication channels
One survey shows that the biggest obstacles of working from home are a lack of communication from management and timely information. In remote work, it is easy to let employees work independently. However, this should not be the case. Establish open and honest communication channels so that workers don't feel left out.
- Use software
Software like our Time Tracker can help you manage remote workers effectively with tools like online geolocation tracking. It can also assist with team messaging, scheduling shifts, and reminders to submit timesheets.
- Communicate often
You can use technologies like text messages, Skype, and Google Hangouts to communicate with workers. Virtual meetings are also great for establishing a connection with workers.
- Track productivity
It can be challenging to track the performance of remote workers. Nevertheless, you can use specific metrics and goals to determine performance. Time Tracker can also help you track employee insights from the customizable dashboard, and you can run reports on individual employees so you can see what they are accomplishing in their day.
Moving to a remote work environment can be productive
Employees won’t have the strenuous commute, colleagues disrupting them, or the general distraction of an office. If you are being forced to move your workforce to remote workers during this outbreak stay positive, you may find there are a lot of benefits for your workers and your business.
At eBillity we understand the financial worry COVID-19 has on the business community and would like to offer you an extended 30-day trial of Time Tracker to make your transition to a remote workforce easier, without the cost. Use promo code 'HOMEOFFICE'.