Tips for teleworking

Distance or virtual working is not a vision of the future. It is a reality. Surveys indicate that almost half (47%) of Canadian employees work at a distance or have flexible work arrangements.1.

Flexibility and remote access are very important in today's world of work. Sixty percent of college graduates expect to be able to work at a distance, and 69% feel they don't have to be in the office to be productive.2.

Remote work environments present challenges for managers, who must maintain the commitment, motivation and effectiveness of their employees. How do you manage the situation?

  • Virtual face-to-face: Online video services, such as Skype or FaceTime, provide a sense of connectedness and are great for informal conversations, to
    coaching and group meetings.
  • Instant messaging : Encourage brief discussions. Instant messaging is easy to use and easily replaces informal conversations during breaks. It also helps employees get closer to their colleagues.
  • Customized approaches : Some workers prefer the telephone, some prefer e-mail, and some prefer both. Adapt to each person's preferences.
  • Set goals and monitor them: One of the dangers of telework is the feeling of not having control over the staff. If employees know what they have to do and deliver, and have clear goals, you can easily track their performance.
  • Take advantage of technology : There are many tools for collaboration and
    project management (software or online) that allow you to see at a glance the status of a project or the progress of the tasks you have assigned.
  • Don't neglect safety: 80% of desktop computers contain
    sensitive informations. Remember to establish security protocols to protect the confidentiality of the data. (We will discuss security in more detail in a future article).
  • Focus on communication: An occasional e-mail is not enough. You need to maintain regular contact with your remote workers so they don't feel isolated or disengaged. Show up at least once a day. Avoid vague questions such as "How's it going? "and opt for meaningful discussions about the challenges workers are facing and possible solutions to address them. This will make the decision-making process more effective.
  • Arrange face-to-face meetings: Even the most efficient telecommuters need to spend some time together. Plan the resources (time and money) to get everyone together a few times a year.

Telework can result in increased productivity and flexibility for employees. Open communication, clear expectations and strong management will help you guide your virtual workers.

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