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Managing Remote Workers

As a result of the pandemic, more people are working from home than ever before. For some employers, this is nothing new. For others, they have been suddenly thrust into managing remote workers and have had to figure out the challenges as they went along. While working remotely may not be feasible in the long-term for everyone, many businesses have discovered that having remote workers can bring numerous benefits if you know how to manage the challenges effectively.

Policing Productivity

The first concern most employers have is how they will ensure that their employees are actually working. Obviously, you will not be able to supervise your employees at the level you are accustomed to, so you may need to adjust your perspective. Rather than focus on whether they are “busy” during work hours, focus instead on their work product:

  • Set firm deadlines
  • Sharpen job roles and responsibilities
  • Refine and clarify productivity metrics
  • Implement project management and time tracking tools

You also need to be mindful of staying in contact with your remote employees since you no longer have the option of simply dropping into their office. Regular team meetings should be mandatory, but be careful that you don’t micromanage your remote employees. Ultimately, the focus should be on whether they are producing a quality work product on time.

Security and Privacy

Another concern for many employers pertains to network security and employee privacy. Because employees will be accessing your network remotely, you need to ensure that they will not compromise your network’s security. Also, you need to make sure that they have access to only those parts of your network they are authorized to access.

Your remote employees should also be mindful of where they keep their computers or access your network. For example, an open laptop could give prying eyes access to private information. Employees should also be prohibited from accessing your network via a public wifi network.

As working remotely grows, many employers struggle with whether to provide their employees with laptops, phones, and other devices or whether they should allow employees to use their own devices. There is no correct answer for every business, but it should be given careful consideration. Ultimately, you should make sure your employees are fully briefed on security and privacy issues and that your company’s protocols are reflected in a company policy that is distributed to all remote employees.

Online Harassment and Bullying

Remote employees sometimes get the impression that the rules don’t apply to them. Conversely, some remote employees feel that their remote status makes them easy targets of bullying or harassment. Managing online harassment and bullying can be a challenge but should not be tolerated any more than other types of harassment.

If you are expanding the number of remote workers you employ, now is a good time to revisit your harassment and discrimination policies with an experienced employment law attorney. They can suggest updates to include your remote workers, including what is considered harassment, how it should be reported, and what action will be taken by management.

Be Flexible

Ultimately, it may take some time for your business to strike the right balance when it comes to working remotely. Seek feedback from your employees - both those who are working remotely as well as those who are working “in-house.” Don’t be afraid to try new things to learn what works and what doesn’t. You might find that allowing employees to work remotely makes for happier, more productive employees that can help your business thrive.

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