Managing Employees Who Work from Home

Based out of Goleta California, Eucalyptus has nearly 100 employees; a staggering 70 of them telecommute from around the globe. How can the business remain productive when so many employees are based thousands of miles away? Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos claims that, in fact, they are more productive than ever, and that central offices are a thing of the past!

As the theory goes, it is easier to fake productivity while working in an office than it is from afar; lapses in productivity stick out like a sore thumb when your boss has never even seen your face. It is, however, important to remember that there are still challenges in managing employees who telecommute. The following are some helpful tips for keeping these employees in check.

1. Hire the Right People

While it may seem as though anyone can fill a position that requires telecommuting, those who are able to thrive and be productive are a relatively rare breed. It is important to assess a candidate’s character and work ethic before hiring them. Specifically ask them how they feel about telecommuting and determine what other hobbies or obligations they have. If it becomes evident that they have no other responsibility, such as a family, to divide their time amongst, then they are at high risk for burnout. That is, spending 100% of their time working will quickly lead to disaster not only for them, but for your company. Remember: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Additionally, it is important for the employee to be able to communicate through writing effectively, as most if not all of your communication will be through written correspondence.

2. Consider “opening the kimono”

This is the idea of sharing detailed company information with all of your employees, a concept that is almost unheard of in the business world. For example, keeping employees informed about new products that the company is developing, or even letting them know, for better or worse, how much cash the company has on hand. Doing this will quickly foster a trusting environment, and everyone will feel that they are in it together.

3. Create a Virtual Water Cooler

Ah yes, the proverbial water cooler. This directly ties in with our other two tips, as it will serve to build personal relationships and trust amongst virtual employees. By creating an online forum or chat where virtual employees can interact you add a whole new aspect to their ability to communicate. All of a sudden, employees feel connected as humans, rather than more distant, seemingly interchangeable, virtual personalities. Also keep in mind that word travels quickly. In a virtual community setting such as this, recruiting the best employees from around the globe becomes much easier!

So the next time you are thinking about expanding your business remember, communications technologies have opened the doors to a world of possibilities. Getting up and dragging yourself into the office is becoming a thing of the past, as more and more people turn to telecommuting and working from abroad in order to get the best help from all around the world!

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