Working Remotely is on the Rise: Is Your Team Equipped?

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Hiring remote employees is increasingly common and allows companies to draw from a larger talent pool instead of being restricted by location. However, it doesn’t mean less logistics or expenses for employers. In order to not only attract but also retain talented remote employees, it’s important to supply them with the hardware, software and equipment they need to do their jobs well in the exact same way you would for in-office employees. It’s also important to maintain good communication with and among remote employees and foster a sense of team culture. Here are some great pointers to successfully hire and maintain a fantastic telecommuting team!

Supply appropriate technology

There is certain technology that is non-negotiable for all remote employees: a computer or laptop and a cell phone. Even if your new hire has a personal computer that would suffice, supplying a company computer ensures that all of your employees are working with the same operating system, paving the way for efficient communication. It also helps reduce the likelihood of non-employee viruses and data breaches. Whether you supply cell phones for your remote employees or simply reimburse for part or all of their monthly cell bills, by offsetting cellular costs you acknowledge the importance of mobile communication in the 21st century workplace and make a great contribution towards overall employee satisfaction. It’s also necessary to supply remote employees with all the software they need to do their jobs. This means installing appropriate software on their computers or laptops at your company’s expense.

In offering the same accessibility for remote employees as you would for in-office employees, also consider reimbursing for part or all of their monthly internet bills.

Depending on their job responsibilities, other hardware you may need to provide could include printers, noise-cancelling headphones, headsets, teleconference equipment, office supplies etc.

Be careful when it comes to supplying technology for contract workers, however. In doing so, these workers may become legal employees of your company. Consult with your attorney so you understand the legal ramifications of this scenario. However, there are times your remote employee will be at your office on your office network or sending files to your team. This can invite unwanted threats onto your business systems. Consider asking your contractors to obtain and maintain their anti-malware and anti-virus software and to keep their firewall turned on while utilizing your company network or cloud services. A managed service provider (MSP) can help to insure this is done. The contractor may benefit from obtaining a MSP service.

Determine who to hire

The interview process is the best time to screen applicants to make sure they’re a good fit for a remote position. Since remote positions require more independence and self-motivation, one good question to ask in the interview is, “What energizes you?” Conversely, “What drains your energy?” Listen closely to their answers. If they are highly energized by people and love to collaborate in their work environment, they may not be the best fit for a remote position. Brainstorm a list of questions that help you assess the competency of your applicants.

Prioritize communication

While a remote position requires more independence on the part of the employee, there are some excellent ways to create a cohesive and communicative remote team. Shortly after the hiring process, be sure to schedule face time with your new employee. This is a great way to begin to build a sense of connectedness. Use this time to communicate team culture and expectations but be sure to make time for a little fun too!

Speaking of fun, incorporate time for non-work-related interaction among remote team members. Holding a monthly conference call complete with time to “catch up” with each other on non-work-related issues is just one idea. It’s a way to simulate a water cooler/lunch break vibe that your employees would experience in an office setting and once again, foster a sense of connectedness and belonging, contributing to overall employee satisfaction. At SOL-I.S., because we’re all remote, we “Huddle” every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the same time of the day, then the technicians “download every day at the end of the day.

In spite of all your best efforts, sometimes remote employees feel, well, remote. Checking in periodically with short surveys to measure employee engagement is a good litmus test for business owners. It gives you insight into what’s working and an opportunity to tweak that which isn’t. It’s also a great way to demonstrate to your remote employees that you value them and their unique contributions to your company.

Feeling overwhelmed? SOL-I.S. would love to help your business with the ins and outs of setting up a remote team. Our team has both a wide and deep knowledge base to offer you the best technology solutions and services available with superior customer service that you can count on! Contact us today!

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