To help telecommuting employees be as efficient as possible, companies need to keep a few things in mind

stock-photo-global-technology-background-2278061-912243-editedMobile devices, faster network speeds and other factors have helped make employees working remotely more of a possibility in recent years; today, 70 percent of businesses across the world have external employees, according to a recent Clarizen survey.

A number of organizations, however, are still trying to figure out exactly how to manage the situation.

Communication, for instance, can be a challenge. Tech tools are available to help workers converse; 85 percent of businesses, though, say they need applications that allow employees to do more than just message each other.

If your organization, like some, is having a hard time structuring opportunities for external employees, the following practices may prove helpful:

Encourage all-inclusive conversations

Videoconferencing can help workers in the office and telecommuting employees connect — if companies arrange virtual meetings the right way. Twenty-nine percent of workers who regularly use phone and video conferencing have intentionally or unintentionally left out a colleague, according to a Steelcase survey; to create a more inclusive atmosphere, the company recommends keeping camera placement in mind.

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Holding meetings via multiple screens — having on-site employees dial in from their desks, for example, instead of congregating in a conference room — may also help both employees working remotely and ones sitting a few feet away from each other feel they’re able to individually contribute.

Provide professional guidance

A 2018 Insurance Business magazine survey found remote workers have 25 percent fewer career growth conversations on average than their on-site colleagues. Managers need to make sure they’re scheduling regular reviews and assessing telecommuting employees’ goals and development needs. If possible, consider conducting those conversations in person; one in four external employees who participated in a survey conducted by VitalSmarts said managers who insisted on at least some face time were more successful in overseeing remote teams.

Allow for social interaction

Project management app provider Trello, where 65 percent of employees work remotely, advises setting up video chats specifically for employees to socialize — or encouraging workers to create social channels in communication-based apps like Slack or HipChat where employees working remotely and workers in the office can share vacation, family and other photos.

cyber-securityOffer remote employment-oriented cybersecurity training

Ninety-two percent of IT professionals worry about the security risks involved in employees using public Wi-Fi with company-owned devices, according to a Spiceworks survey; yet fewer than six out of ten respondents in a survey conducted by Imation Corp. said their organization had a remote employment tech policy.

Informing external employees — and workers in the office who may, at times, access information outside of the workplace about safe cyber practices, such as only using unique, complex passwords, can help protect company data.

For more information on employees working remotely — and suggestions about how to manage telecommuting employees successfully — view our blog posts on reaching out to remote locations, some of the best flexible working hour practices and three ways companies can effectively engage off-site employees.

Companies that offer remote employment opportunities in other countries may also want to read our posts on how to respond to employees’ top four relocation package concerns and making employee relocation work.

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