The need to find tools for managing remote workers is becoming increasingly important for several reasons. For starters, remote workers now constitute 37 percent of the U.S. workforce—a four-fold increase from the 90’s. Second, the “war for talent’ has changed the landscape in terms of how we recruit. Because of the current candidate-driven marketplace, it sometimes makes sense to offer telecommuting as an employee perk. And many companies have also found that remote workers are more productive and happy to lose the stress that comes with juggling a hectic schedule and making a long commute.
Luckily, companies have access to a whole host of tools that help them stay connected to a dispersed workforce. Here are several options you may want to consider as you’re looking for ways to engage and manage your remote employees.
Connecting to remote workers face-to-face is essential to building and maintaining relationships with them. Some remote workers will also need to connect with clients face-to-face. Companies like join.me, Zoom, and Highfive cater to video conferencing in the business world. And of course, plenty of businesses are still using Skype and Google Hangouts.
Internal chat features are used by many employees at almost every company. They are critical for remote workers as they help keep them connected throughout the day, never missing out on important or time sensitive information. These systems let employees send messages as groups, teams, or privately. Some of the top products on the market include Slack, Flowdock, and Hipchat.
Being able to track where things are with any project is crucial, but when your team members are working remotely, it becomes even more important. Project management software that can be accessed from any device makes creating, tracking, and communicating throughout a project simple. Three to check out: Asana, Pivotal Tracker, and Basecamp.
Some companies worry about time-theft, overtime laws, payroll, and billable hours. This concern can become especially precarious when employees work outside of the office. With software like Harvest, Transparent Business, and Toggle, employees can track their hours with the push of a button, which makes it easy for employers and employees to track productivity.
When employees work in the same location as their leader, it’s a little easier to gauge employee satisfaction, or at a minimum, ask for a few minutes to have a conversation about it. When it relates to remote workers, that same rapport is harder to build. Software like 15Five has employees spend fifteen minutes at the end of each week answering questions about engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and goals. Managers review the answers to understand better where their employees stand on specific topics and when it’s appropriate to address certain issues.
If managing remote workers is still relatively new for you, take a closer look at some of these tools to see if they are a fit for your team and your company. You may be surprised to find how easy it is to stay connected when you use the right software, regardless of where your employees spend their time. You may even find that your remote workers are happier overall, and more likely to stay with your company.
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.