Managing a remote team may seem like the trendy thing to do, but this trend is popular for a reason. It works.
Your business can save money and even boost revenue with a remote staff, but you have to be ready for the change.
If you’re going to enjoy the benefits of managing a remote team, you must let go of any desires to micromanage. And let’s be honest. It’s easy to fall into this trap when your employees are just a cubicle away.
But here’s the thing… people who believe they are being watched do not perform as well. It’s a scientifically proven fact.
A Remote Team is a More Productive Team
Chinese travel website Ctrip conducted an interesting experiment on remote vs. in-house staff. They wanted to know whether they’d save enough on office expenses with a remote team to offset a productivity loss. But much to their surprise, they did not lose productivity. In fact, remote workers took 13.5% more calls than office employees.
Remote workers are not just more productive, but they’re also happier. And you can bet that a happier employee will be more likely to produce better results. This may equate to happier customers and more repeat business, which are two things that can easily boost revenue.
By now, you may be sold on the benefits of having a remote team, but we can take the savings and bonuses further with a few helpful tools.
Time and Productivity Monitoring
Are you tired of paying for time spent gossiping at the water cooler? And even the most dedicated micromanagers will have trouble determining whether a “busy” employee is working or emailing with a friend.
But with the right time and productivity monitoring tools, every minute logged is a minute worked.
These programs may also help you come up with better estimates for clients, so you know exactly how much each job will cost before you submit a quote.
There are a few tools that can help you manage employee time. Each have their own unique benefits, so it’s all about deciding which is best for your needs.
Time Doctor, Hive Desk and Worksnaps will all track time and snap screenshots, so you can scratch that micromanaging itch without literally looking over someone’s shoulder.
Project Management Programs
Imagine training an employee the old-fashioned way. You spend time distributing all the project-critical documents and rely on the employee to go back to his or her desk and keep everything organized and accessible.
This leaves a great deal of room for error.
On the other hand, with a project management program, all files will be in the correct project folder at all times. In most cases, the employee can bring his or herself up to speed with minimal involvement from you. And teams can easily work together on a clear and common goal regardless of where in the world they are.
Project management programs also help your business run on time. Instead of relying on any individual to keep track of a deadline, the project management program can do the work for you. It may even send reminders when a deadline is imminent.
Basecamp and Trello are two popular project management programs. The layouts among these and others differ greatly, so the one you choose may depend on your personal work style.
Text and Video Messaging Apps
There is something to be said about face-to-face and instant collaboration. And without reliable text and video messaging, a remote team may miss out.
Fortunately, there are mobile text and video apps to keep people connected. Answers to project-critical questions are just a click away, so there’s no need to lose time.
Skype and Google Hangouts and Slack all accomplish the same thing in different ways. Slack also has some added features and integrations that help you organize conversations and share files. Choose one text and video messaging app for your organization to ensure everyone will be accessible during work hours.
Advanced Customer and Interoffice Communication
Staffing a remote call center can be scary. This is your company’s direct line to the consumer, and it must be handled according to your brand’s standards.
But just like Ctrip found, many businesses are realizing that they can boost productivity with a remote call center. Hosted PBX systems have played a large role in this transition.
A company may experience lower phone bills and equipment costs, and gain access to better employee management tools with a hosted PBX solution.
We’ve seen from the research that remote teams are more productive overall. But what productivity level do you think you can achieve with the right tools and practices? And are you ready to find out?
FairPoint Communications delivers modern communications technology with respect, commitment, and a can-do spirit. We are a leading provider of a full range of communications services to residential and business customers including: local and long distance voice, data, Internet, television and broadband. Follow us on twitter @FairPoint.