How to Establish Remote Work for Your Company: Sharing the Experience of an Outsourcing Business
In this article, you’ll find out what remote work is, what its advantages and disadvantages are, and how to manage remote employees. You’ll also get insights on how Mobindustry organizes remote work.
At some companies, employees have long been able to work at the office, from home, or even in a coffee shop or at the beach. IT outsourcing companies, for instance, have solid experience managing remote teams and projects. Other companies who had no experience with remote work, however, are now struggling to manage remote employees.
Remote work is the future
Remote work has not always been a necessity like it is today, though some companies adopted this approach years ago. Let’s see how IBM implemented remote work into their workflow.
In 1979, IBM made headlines by becoming one of the first Fortune 500 companies to allow employees to work remotely. The corporate giant adopted this modern view on work over 40 years ago. In fact, IBM found the practice to be so successful that by 2009, 40% of their employees worked remotely.
According to Gallup, remote workers put in longer hours and are more productive.
A recent Harvard Business Review study states that many remote workers feel their non-remote colleagues don’t treat them equally and don’t fight for their priorities.
But the reality is that remote work is the future, 51% of workers would change jobs for a role that offered them flextime and 31% would make a move for a role that allowed them to work remotely at least part of the time.
Perhaps the issue is not remote work but how we manage and work with remote employees.
Advantages and disadvantages of working remotely
Remote work has always been at the center of heated discussion. Is it beneficial or does it ruin discipline? Here are the main pros and cons of remote work.
- Allows employees to spend their time effectively
- Saves money on office rent
- Removes office interruptions, thus improving remote team productivity
- Extends the company’s operating hours
- Unsuitable for positions that require the use of specialized equipment
- Makes some employees less productive
- Creates difficulty in scheduling meetings and coordinating projects
- Makes supervision more difficult
Lessons that Mobindustry has learned while working remotely
The problem with remote work today is that companies basically have given their workers laptops and said off you go. But this approach won’t cut it. In a situation like this, employees don’t have enough support to survive already hard and anxious times. As a software outsourcing company, Mobindustry has lots of experience managing remote teams and keeping our clients informed of all our development processes. Let’s dive deeper and find out how your company can successfully work remotely.
At Mobindustry, we’ve figured out the most important things employers should keep track of and ways they can do that. There are a few things you want to be tracking.
What are your employees working on?
What are your employees actually doing? When you’re in the office, you can see what’s on workers’ screens, ask your employees what they’re working on at the moment, or have a team meeting. You get a bit of a sense of what people are actually doing. But when you’re working remotely it’s harder to track the work of your employees.
Are they actually working, and if so how much?
When working in the office, you can notice who works more or less. You can see who leaves early and if it reflects on their job performance. But with remote work, you lose these kinds of insights.
What is the quality of their work?
How good is your employees’ work? Before going remote, you likely had ways for people to submit work to their managers for approval. When working remotely, it’s very important to leave these processes without any significant changes.
First, we’re going to talk about how you can know what people are working on. To monitor the tasks people are completing, we use a project management tool called Jira. Every task a Mobindustry employee does is documented in a task list. A task list contains a series of different tasks, each assigned to someone. Each task has a title, a description, and sometimes subtasks. Tasks can be assigned to project managers, developers, or other employees, who work through them and mark them as completed.
With tools like Jira, you can see what tasks your employees are working on, how they complete them, and how much time it takes them to do so. But if your employees aren’t used to this kind of workflow, don’t just throw them into this new environment. Come up with a manual to help them understand how your project management tool works and what they need to do to make the process as efficient and convenient as possible.
Employees have different personalities. Working remotely can be amazing for introverts, but it can be devastating for extroverts.
In the second picture, you see a guy slumped over a laptop on a chair. For some of your employees, this may not be that far off. But this kind of workplace can only harm your employee’s health. As an employer, it’s both your duty and in your interests to look after your employees and and a work environment that allows them to thrive.
Mobindustry has come up with three key aspects that can help employers improve the support system within their company. What can you do to help employees do their best work? After all, if they’re not doing their best work, you’re not benefiting either.
- Create an efficient workplace. Help your employees set up their workplace at home. Employees from both Mobindustry offices can work remotely, and we provide our employees with computers and other necessary devices.
- Strict guidelines on working hours and availability. By this, we don’t mean strictly working from 9 to 5. But we do mean advising your workers to switch off when completing their work for the day. Don’t have them answering work-related messages at 11 or 12 at night, as this will lead to blurred lines between work and home time. At Mobindustry, we take care of our employees by offering a flexible time schedule and an established routine for employees to inform colleagues when they’ve finished work for the day.
- Schedule online events. Schedule online events for your employees to keep up their team spirit. These events can really be anything from a party to a game night. Events don’t have to be too long — they can literally take just 10 minutes — but it’s important that they’re scheduled because otherwise they won’t happen. At Mobindustruy, we have an HR team that coordinates such events. We’ve already done several team building conferences using Zoom. It’s a great way of maintaining bonds with employees.
When people work in the office, they talk to each other and have meetings. When you’re in the same physical space, this comes naturally. But in an online environment, it’s harder to do.
At Mobindustry, we understand that clear and honest communication is very important for remote workers. Remote employees don’t have the luxury of being able to swing by your desk to ask questions. So pick up the phone and be sure to schedule consistent check-ins. Or connect over a video call to make the conversation more natural.
Make sure your remote team communication channels are a good fit for remote work.
Here are the main channels of communication:
- Phone calls
- Video conferencing
At Mobindustry, we use Skype and Slack to communicate. We have different chats for development teams, marketing teams, project managers, etc. Our teams have daily stand-up video calls to discuss what they’re going to do as well as scheduled weekly and monthly meetings. For big online meetings, we use Zoom. Emails are for announcements, file sharing, and reports.
For scheduling meetings, we use Google Calendar. It shows every employee’s schedule and availability, which is convenient.
Now you know how to implement remote work for your company. Even though today’s reality makes remote work obligatory, don’t think of it as a bad thing. If done right, remote work can be beneficial for your company and even improve your existing workflow. Here are some key takeaways:
- Track what your employees do and how much time it takes them to do it. Use tools for remote teams to manage tasks, and provide your employees with a manual on how to use those tools.
- Support your employees, as your success depends on them. Help them to establish a comfortable workplace at home, provide them with the needed equipment, schedule online events, and make guidelines for working hours.
- Choose communication channels and organize daily, weekly, and monthly routines for your workers.
We hope our experience has given you ideas for how to manage a remote team and how to establish an efficient remote work environment for your company.