More people are working from home than ever before. In fact, in 2015, 37% of employees were telecommuting. In addition to the money saved annually by managing a remote team ($11k per employee, to be exact), these distance workers many times produce greater results than in-office employees.
76% of professionals polled said their most productive work time is at home, crediting their greater productivity to a lack of distraction, office politics, and stressful commutes.
As the manager of a remote team, I can tell you first-hand what the advantages of hiring remote employees are. I can also tell you what lessons traditional companies can take away and apply to their office environments for increased productivity and heightened employee satisfaction and morale. Do you want to learn a few “tricks of the remote-team trade” and how to use them to enjoy better and more productive results from your office staff? Well, we hope you will find the following lessons useful in accomplishing that:
Benefits of Managing a Remote Team
1: You and your workers will learn better time-management
Remote teams save time. There’s no commuting, so employees can jump into work earlier and continue working later without having to worry about traffic or travel time. And since people aren’t working together in one office, meetings, which frequently take up a disproportionate amount of the workday, are faster, less frequent, and more direct. 40% of office time is spent sitting in meetings; eliminate this time-guzzler, and you’ll find that your employees have a lot more time to accomplish other things (like their jobs!).
2: Your team will communicate more directly, clearly, and with purpose
People sitting around the office very frequently roam off task, gabbing about the news or discussing office gossip or personal matters. Telecommuting virtually (pardon the pun) eliminates these situations, resulting in more productivity and efficiency during work hours. When remote workers phone a colleague or send an email, they tend to stick to the matter at hand and get straight to the point.
3: Your employees will feel more accountable for their work
Remote workers have a lot more flexibility than office employees. They complete their tasks without anyone looking over their shoulders, take breaks when they want or need to, and can set the atmosphere according to their own tastes and moods. That’s a lot of freedom, and along with that freedom comes responsibility. Working from home (or anywhere in the world) and having that flexibility leads remote workers to feel a greater sense of responsibility towards their work, care more about their performance, and end up working more efficiently than they normally would in an office environment.
4: Your team’s efficiency will skyrocket
We mentioned that flexibility results in greater accountability, but incorporating flextime can also increase efficiency. When people are allowed to get the job done on their own schedule, they approach their tasks with more enthusiasm and energy than if they were forced to fit life into the traditional 9-5 mold. In fact, studies show the most productive workers often worked fewer hours (but more efficiently during that time).
5: You will be exposed to some cool online tools
Remote teams utilize a variety of useful online collaboration tools that conventional businesses aren’t even aware of. For example:
Group chat services like Slack let you send out messages to the entire team to ask for advice or to collaborate with colleagues for faster input and quicker resolutions.
Zoom offer web and video conferencing that keep staff connected no matter where they are.
When you do need to schedule meetings, apps like Join.Me will keep everyone’s schedules in sync so you can maximize efficiency.
File sharing and syncing tools like SugarSync help keep all your files in the cloud and easy to transport and update.
Lessons for In-Office Application
Managing a remote team has its benefits, but while you might not be ready to send everyone in your office home to work in their pajamas, you can reap some remarkable rewards by emulating aspects of the remote work world.
Here are 4 lessons from managing remote teams that you can apply in order to improve productivity among your in-house staff:
- Schedule meetings less frequently, and gear the subject matter to specific issues or topics that need to be addressed.
- Use more efficient communication methods to discuss questions or ask for clarifications.
- Offer employees flextime or to work from home once or twice a week.
- Incorporate efficiency-boosting tools to make your entire workflow more productive.
“Remote work options are a part of successful 21st century workplaces.” - Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs CEO
Think flexwork is just for the small fish? There are thousands of big companies jumping on the telecommuting bandwagon. Here are a few examples:
- Convergys, a leading customer management software company, currently employs over 75,000 remote workers across 31 countries.
- 82% of Intel’s employees are telecommuters.
- Check out this video from one of IBM’s top staffers who loves working from home.
Truth is that in every industry there are business benefits to learn from remote teams management. And they are such that any traditional, office-based business can enjoy. How will you incorporate these lessons into your company policy this year?