Well, with apologies to Mark Twain, the reports of telecommuting’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. If you’re a manager who is in charge of several remote workers, you already know how false these claims are.
That said, the world of telecommuting has evolved to where it isn’t the same as it was even a few years ago. Here are ten trends about telecommuting in 2015 that every remote manager should be aware of:
It’s not a fringe practice anymore. Partial telecommuting is fast becoming the new normal, and full-time remote workers are becoming more common. As a result, remote managers have more peers than they ever have before.
Young workers love it. Twentysomethings grew up on technology, so telecommuting to them is a natural extension of working. If you can find young, self-motivated employees who want to telecommute, your onboarding time will probably be much smaller than with middle-aged workers.
But all kinds of people telecommute. That said, telecommuting isn’t just for young adults and stay-at-home moms anymore. In fact, the average telecommuter is 49 years old and earns $58,000 a year. So don’t limit your job search when filling telecommuting positions.
Your workers must have the right tools. This applies not so much to telecommuters’ computer hardware, but rather to the project management software they use as well as proper access to the files, documents, and online company resources they need to perform their job duties.
There’s an app for that. Due to telecommuting’s popularity, there are plenty of user-friendly digital apps available to help your remote workers manage their project tasks, meet with one another online, and interact with your head office more easily.
Efficiency in meetings is paramount. When you hold meetings with remote workers, you can’t get away with disorganization and time mismanagement. If your virtual meetings aren’t tight, your telecommuting employees won’t be engaged at all.
Telecommuters tend to work longer hours. Plenty of studies have shown this to be true. While that doesn’t give you license to overburden or exploit your remote workers, knowing this will give you more flexibility in assigning tasks and meeting deadlines.
Monitor results, not hours. On the other hand, it’s important to evaluate remote workers by their output as opposed to their hours worked. That means stressing productivity over quantity and encouraging telecommuters to work smarter, not harder.
Proactive outreach is important. Remote managers excel when they take a proactive approach to engaging with their telecommuting employees, rather than waiting for issues to pop up to communicate with them directly.
Learn to close your (virtual) door. In the office, you can signal to coworkers that you need “alone time” by closing your office door. Since you can’t do that with remote workers, you should instead notify them that you will be offline for a certain time period if you need to concentrate on something without being interrupted.
Despite what some business “experts” believe, telecommuting is here to stay. Managers who embrace telecommuting and remote employment not only learn how to get the most out of their remote workers but will always have an edge on their competition – as well as their corporate colleagues.