Innovation isn’t always about the tools we use at work. Just as often, it’s about the way we work.
As more and more businesses begin to appreciate the benefits of enabling their employees to work remotely, the size of the remote workforce is approaching record numbers. It’s easy to understand why. The idea of breaking free from the 9-to-5 mold is the goal of many an office worker. Being able to work where, and in many cases, when they want makes for a happier and more satisfied worker. Millennials, in particular, are embracing this change to the status quo, so it makes sense to consider this option when recruiting them (and you should definitely be recruiting them).
But with rapid growth like this comes an inevitable learning curve.
There is no handbook for how a remote office should operate; no precise guideline for what percentage of the team should work this way, or for what percentage of the workweek. Business owners who embrace flexible and remote work options are pioneering a new way to work.
Due to the innovative nature of remote offices, best practices for managing remote teams effectively are constantly evolving. At Xerox, we spend our days talking to business owners, managers and employees just like you.
Don’t you forget about me! Here's the innovative technology you need to stay connected to your virtual teams & provide a full in-office experience from anywhere
Here are the top four things your remote workers want their teammates to know:
It’s Any Time, Not All the Time
The flexibility of working remotely is one of the largest draws for most employees. But their in-office counterparts would do well to remember that simply because today’s mobile work tools make it possible to work from anywhere, at any time, doesn’t mean that virtual employees don’t struggle to balance work and home life just like anyone else.
It makes sense that they want the same freedom as other employees to say no to meetings, phone calls or emails that take place well outside normal working hours. They also have the reasonable expectation of being able to take a vacation or sick days away from the office – completely away, which means not answering phone calls or emails.
Their Flexibility is Part of their Salary
Remote employees tend to consider the flexibility of their work arrangement, and benefits like non-commuting, as a more or less a part of their salary package. It makes sense when you consider that workers spend an average of $2,600 on their daily commute. Remote employees are often willing to consider a smaller weekly check in exchange for the benefits provided by a remote arrangement. If you change that arrangement, don’t be surprised to find that they expect you to negotiate a salary change as well.
They Need More than Just a Laptop
Being able to work productively from anywhere requires more than the ability to pick up your work station and go. Having the right printer or MFP ensures a fully integrated office experience for every member of your team. Xerox printers and multifunction printers (MFPs) enabled with ConnectKey Technology® can be programmed to scan documents, convert them into searchable PDFs and forward them to the proper department in one easy step.
Since many remote employees split their time between the traditional office environment and a home office (or working from the road), being able to easily scan invoices, receipts and client info to a secure Cloud based software or systems is especially important.
The right mobility tools are also critical for employees with flexible work arrangements. TheXerox® Mobile Link app can connect their mobile devices with the Xerox® multifunction printers in your workplace, making it easy to use smartphones or tablets to scan documents and send them to email contacts, cloud storage and printers simultaneously – critical when you’re working from the road. It’s interesting to note that while 83% of organizations are interested in mobile print capabilities, only 14% of companies have actually deployed mobile printing. Whether a virtual office is on your radar or not, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, the time to employ mobile printing is now.
Scanning your invoices or receipts saves time and reduces both risk and the errors that come with manually entering information. With the right software, the process is quick and easy. If you’re scanning into web applications frequently, consider incorporating Xerox® Web Capture Service©. Web Capture simplifies the process of document management by triggering scanning automatically via an easy to use browser plug-in. It also allows users to scan multiple files at one time with its ‘follow-me’ scan repository.
Need help outfitting your remote staff? Take a look at this post on How to Set Up the Perfect Remote Workspace.
They Still Want to be Part of the Team
31% of Americans work remotely four or five days a week, and that number is growing, not only in the U.S. but worldwide. It makes sense that no matter where they’re located, every employee wants to feel connected to their team. In a recent Globoforce study about the value of work relationships, 87% of respondents said they trust their coworkers and 93% said it’s important to have colleagues think highly of them.
Staying in communication with your remote workers, whether they’re fully remote or just handling business from the road, is essential to productivity. It’s also an essential part of keeping your team working cohesively, and making every employee feel valued and appreciated.
There are a wealth of options that go well beyond email to help you stay in communication, giving you the next best thing to an in-person experience. Virtual employees deserve equal participation in meetings and team huddles, and they want their achievements to be recognized publicly just like those of their in-office counterparts. Making this happen is easier than you might expect. Consider incorporating cloud based applications like chat platforms, videoconferencing solutions, and project management software into your workflows, and see how useful they can be to your remote and on-site teams alike.
And last, but certainly not least, remember that remote team members are still part of the team. While they have the benefit of increased flexibility, they often miss out on the social aspect of being part of an office environment. After all, water cooler talk isn’t quite as stimulating when you have only yourself to talk to. Remember to include them in social or charity events, and in all employee communications.
Remote offices are a growing trend, but there is still a long way to go. Subscribe to the Small Business Solutions blog to stay ahead of the curve, and to get the tips and support you need to put its benefits to work for your business.