How To Manage Telecommuters

Knowing how manage telecommuters is paramount to your out-of-office experience being successful. Find out how with another great ComCenter blog post
Before your business jumps ship on the traditional office, set up a management strategy for telecommuters. It could be the step that makes or breaks your out-of-office experience.

Be Clear With Your Expectations

(Put them in writing)

Telecommuters don’t have you there to ask questions of and they aren’t nearly as likely to pick up the phone and call you (no one wants to be a bother). After all, it’s not like they can just walk to your office door. Because of this, you need to make sure these, now autonomous, workers are well informed of expectations beforehand.

Key Expectations to Clarify

  • What you expect
  • How you expect it
  • When you expect it
  • What you plan to do for revisions
Team Check-Ins, Make Them Frequent

Because you are remote from your team, be sure to use instant messaging, video chat, telephone calls or some other form of communication and do it frequently. For instance, check in every other day with a new team member and maybe once a week with an established member who knows what he or she is supposed to do.

Always Address Problems Swiftly!!

This one really does deserve a double exclamation point. Small problems are huge to a teleworker and can stall them for hours waiting on a response from you. Contract workers may not be paid unless you like what they have done, so when they encounter a problem and ask for your assistance, it is a must that you respond promptly.

Consider Early Completion Rewards

While this isn’t a common practice, it does motivate a worker to complete the project more quickly than they would have otherwise and that’s good for your business.

Use Some Form of Metrics to Track Productivity

Many office staffs use Key Performance Indicators (often called KPIs) but if you’re unfamiliar with the term, just call them employee report cards. Basically they measure what your employee has done, the quality of it and your experience with the employee. However you decide to set it up, make sure you have it.

In Person Team Meetings

This is a major factor in all virtual businesses today. Getting everyone together is an important step in making employees feel a part of something. No one wants to be left alone all the time and only report to their computer.

Even once a year (especially if you’re a widespread team) goes a long way towards fostering camaraderie, which will spill over into the next email exchange. That’s important since emails are notorious for misunderstanding the tone of the sender.

Essentially, managing telecommuters is identical to managing in-house employees; the only difference is the means of communication.

And, sometimes you get to do it while wearing your pajamas with tousled hair and a fresh cup of coffee in your favorite weekend mug, but it’s Monday. I think I feel a smile coming on…

Join us on Facebook and feel free to comment. We’d love to hear about your experience or discuss your concerns relating to virtual offices and telecommuting. It’s an ever-changing spectrum and we all stand to gain from the dialogue.

Thanks for reading!
This post was based on articles at BNET.com and Gigaom.com.