There are many positive benefits the Internet brings to organizations of all sizes. One of them is the ability of employees to connect to the office from almost anywhere, a practice commonly referred to as working remotely. Working from home, or anywhere that isn’t the office, can be attractive to many employees, but it can cause problems for managers though.

Here’s five tips on how you can better connect with and manage your remote workers, freelance or otherwise, to help ensure optimal productivity.

Establish workflow As your employees work off site, they will set their own hours. This means they have to rely on their own discipline to get work done. Because of this, it will be hard for you to set/control their hours, which means you’ll have to trust them to get their work done. You should be aware of when they prefer to work, simply by talking with them, and be flexible with their schedules.

Working with remote workers is a two-way street, and while you should know your remote employee’s schedules, they should also know your schedule, and how you work. If you answer emails in the morning and have meetings in the afternoons, be sure to let them know that you expect/will answer their requests before lunch, for example.

Communication is key As in most businesses, communication is key to both a happy and productive workplace. You, as the manager, need to ensure that an open line of communication with your remote employees exists. This could be as simple as a telephone number or VoIP account that’s always on, (within reasonable hours of course), or an instant messaging platform. It’s important to ensure that you find out if your employees have the tools to complete their job.

Two-way feedback, both positive and negative, is also an important part of the communication process. You need to provide near constant feedback, even on small issues that would ordinarily be glossed over in physical interactions, while encouraging your employees to do the same.

Remember: you’re the boss Many bosses with remote employees find that the employee seems to run the show, and getting projects or tasks completed on time can be a bit tough. As the boss, you need to clearly explain what is expected of remote employees, why it’s expected, and the consequences of not meeting expectations. If there’s a problem it’s up to you to try to fix it.

Most importantly, if you work with strict deadlines, you need to ensure that remote employees are not only aware of the deadlines but are held accountable for them. If deadlines are missed, you may want to find another employee, remote or otherwise.

Provide a secure platform While the majority of remote employees connect to the office from their home, there’s a chance that they may connect from other locations, like coffee shops or libraries. A large percentage of public Wi-Fi connections have little to no security, and the last thing you want is to have your data breached due to unsecure connections.

This means you should provide remote employees with a secure way to connect to the office. Some solutions include virtual desktops or a secure laptop. Providing a secure connection isn’t enough, you need to ensure your systems can actually handle remote connections and that IT support is available for remote workers. The added benefit to this is that you can better monitor productivity, as the systems can be monitored using the same software as is used for computers in the office.

Judge by the final product Productivity is not easy to judge when you can’t physically see someone sat in their seat. For remote workers, the easiest way to monitor productivity is by the quality and consistency of the final product turned in compared to the time it took them to provide it. In reality, remote workers should complete tasks in about the same amount of time it takes employees who work onsite. The time and date of submission shouldn’t enter into decisions unless there are deadlines.

Employees that connect remotely can offer companies who employ them many benefits too and if you’re interested in employing remote staff, why not contact us. We can help find a solution that will work for both parties for best productivity all round.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.