How To Know For Sure That You’re Ready For Remote Employees

road distance isloation public domainIt’s almost impossible to read articles about small business, startups or productivity today without quickly hitting one that discusses the virtues of remote employees or adding long-distance freelancers to your team.

The benefits are unassailable. Here are just a few:

  • A recent ConnectSolutions survey reports that 77 percent of employees working remotely say they are more productive.
  • Small businesses can add skills and talents that they cannot find or afford in the local market.
  • Remote employees are often self-starters, therefore requiring less direct supervision.

However, you need to do a self-check before you jump into this area, and if you do decide to move ahead with your plans to bring remote employees on board, you need to be prepared.

It starts with you

First, consider your management style and the way you think about work. If you are a super-traditionalist who believes work can only be measured by a time clock, you either need to drop your plans or change your attitude. Further, you probably need to adjust the way you organize your workplace, if possible.

Generally, the kind of work assigned to a remote worker or freelancer is based in completing tasks and achieving goals. Consider these two scenarios:

  • You ask an in-house employee to complete seven reports by the end of the day. Frankly, you’ve set the parameters in terms of both the quantity of work you need completed as well as the time frame. There’s a good chance the work will “expand” to fill the time.
  • You ask a freelancer to complete seven reports and pay a fee per report. The freelancer finishes them more quickly and moves on to do work for another client or additional work for you.

Which of these do you feel most comfortable with? The lesson is that you should have tasks and projects that you need to complete in a timely manner. When you have milestones like that, it often makes sense to turn them over to a remote employee or freelancer.

Reach out and touch someone

However, you need to have communication systems in place that keep everyone on the same page. There are a range of options today, including

  • Email (as long as it is checked frequently),
  • Instant messaging,
  • Online whiteboard apps,
  • Cloud-based apps,
  • Video communications – Skype and the various on-line meeting systems – and
  • Private social media platforms or “groups.”

You also need to standardize file types that you use and perhaps deal with some branding issues if communications to third parties would be involved. For example, if you’re using a freelancer who will sometimes email your clients or others, it might be better if the email came from an address associated with your domain, e.g.

So if you decide that the benefits would serve your business well as you grow, be sure you’re mentally prepared and have the infrastructure in place to facilitate a smooth “on boarding” process.

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