One of the greatest thing that the 21st century did for SMBs is that it allowed them to hire remote workers. This means that some of the smallest businesses out there, no longer need to lease expensive office space in order to start out. Another great advantage is that remote workers are expected to bring their own hardware, which saves you a fortune. Finally, it gives the business owner a larger talent pool since you are no longer restricted to choose only from people living in your region or those willing to relocate.
Unfortunately, the greatest downside of using remote workers is the issue of management. Still, with the right amount of organization and proper digital tools even this can be quite doable.
The absolutely first thing you need to focus on when managing remote workers is finding a reliable online document and file sharing system. Sure, files can be sent through most instant messaging software, but exchanging documents through various platforms can cause a lot of confusion and displacement of vital data. Furthermore, text documents and images are not all you will share and some services don’t support files that exceed a certain size limit. If you need to share a video or a similar multimedia file this can be quite problematic. Luckily, there are many great options for you to choose from, like Basecamp, Dropbox and Google Docs.
When working with people you never met in person, one of your greatest concerns will be the issue of security. This is where intranet collaboration can be extremely useful. First, this kind of cooperation will allow you to keep emails private and save all the most confidential information off the grid. Another reason why companies turn to this kind of collaboration is because it offers better bandwidth since there are not connection limits. In turns, this provides better real time communication which also improves productivity.
Sometimes, your remote workers will not even be in the same time zone, which can be quite problematic. The only sensible way to deal with this particular problem is to get over the outdated idea of work hours and switch to deadlines. Still, in order for this to work you must share the calendar with all your employees. In this way, they will be able to see all the schedules and to-dos on a timeline and be able to plan your work order properly. If after this, they fail to deliver in time, you will be able to rest assured the problem was a result of personal irresponsibility and not that of managerial negligence.
While many new business owners may be afraid of managing remote workers, this is in no way more difficult than organizing your on-spot employees. The greatest difference is that here you will have to heavily rely on software. Still, this doesn’t mean you will no longer be able to micromanage important projects. Telecommuting truly is a force of the future and ignoring it could potentially mean losing a competitive edge, which is a risk you simply can’t afford.