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4 Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Managing a Remote Workforce

It’s not always easy to get the best performance and productivity from the people in your organisation. Today, with so many people working remotely thanks to faster internet and cloud services, it’s a bigger challenge than ever before.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been a steady growth in the number of people working remotely over the past five years. While predictions vary, some sources expect half of the UK’s working-age population to be working remotely by 2020.

It’s no surprise. With a better work-life balance, a short or non-existent daily commute, and a focus on what people do, not where they do it, around 70% of workers say remote working makes a job more attractive. Meanwhile, for businesses, it can be an effective way to reduce the cost and complexity of on-premise staff.

However, with big opportunities come big challenges. Here’s how you can overcome them as your workforce becomes increasingly distributed.

1. Keeping your people productive

Many managers are concerned about how productive people will be when they’re working off-site. However, this modern challenge is the same one employers have been facing in the office for years - and the solutions are relatively familiar.

First, it’s important to clearly define your expectations. This could involve setting measurable amounts of work to be completed in a given time period, as well as clear deadlines. You can also use centralised tools and regularly scheduled contact to improve your visibility over the work your remote employees are doing, so you can intervene if they are falling behind.

2. Connecting people to your systems and your culture

At a fundamental level, there’s a technical challenge in keeping remote workers connected to all your day-to-day systems. Beyond remote desktop, you could implement enterprise sharing tools like Microsoft SharePoint and Dropbox, or a fully-fledged virtual workspace like Slack.

These can be useful ways to help people organise their work and workloads while giving them all the tools, files and folders to work productively and collaboratively.

However, if your virtual workspace supports instant messaging, you can also take steps to keep remote workers connected to your culture as well as your IT. You can even schedule the same team building sessions you might offer in real life, conducted online. These are crucial elements of keeping people motivated, engaged, and retaining the best talent for longer.

3. Securing your sensitive data

In the aftermath of GDPR as well as widespread news coverage of major cyber security breaches, businesses are acutely aware of the need to keep data safe. Of course, it’s when data is transmitted from one place to another - a key element of remote working - that it is most at risk.

Data security doesn’t have to be an obstacle to remote working. As with your in-house employees, staying secure simply means developing a clear strategy, training your users, and enforcing good policies. These could include everything from providing antivirus software to rotating passwords - whether your remote workers use your equipment or their own devices.

4. Keeping your remote workers safe

No matter where they work, your employees are your responsibility when it comes to health and safety. This often-overlooked challenge of remote working may need specialist support.

While it’s not feasible to conduct risk assessments at all the places your remote workers could be, you should develop specialised policies and procedures. Typical areas can include what to do in the event of an injury, how to report this injury to management, and when and how often breaks may need to be taken. This can also include providing them with a Workstation Risk Assessment that the worker can fill in and send to you for assessment.

Get help managing your remote workforce

At Park City, we combine our years of experience in HR with insight into the new challenges today’s businesses face. From our always-available HR helpline to fully outsourced retained HR support and e-learning that keeps remote workers engaged and developing new skills, we can provide comprehensive support, advice, and guidance.

Contact us now to discuss the challenges you’re facing and how we could help.

 

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Juliet Price is the Managing Director here at Park City and has extensive, specialist knowledge in HR, Health & Safety and staff development. Enter your question below and we'll be back in touch soon with an answer!

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