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Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.netSeveral things that were once essential for running a business have gone the way of the dinosaur. Almost nobody uses a typewriter anymore and it’s relatively rare for a company to send or receive faxes these days. Next up on the chopping block might just the traditional office. As technology has made it easier than ever for employees to communicate and connect, even when they are miles apart, the remote office seems to be the workspace of the future.

But remote work isn’t always the best option for every company. If your company is considering offering remote work as a perk or options, take a look at the pros and cons of it before making the switch.

Pros of Remote Work

Perhaps the biggest benefit of offering remote work is that doing so makes your company more attractive to employees. About two-thirds of employees would like the option of working from home, as it would eliminate the need to commute and allow them more time for their family or other non-work obligations.  Giving your team the option to work remotely also helps lower your rate of turnover, as employees who are satisfied with their work conditions are going to be more likely to stick with a company.

Reducing turnover leads to another indirect benefit of making the switch to remote work. Doing so can save your company money. If fewer employees leave, you’ll spend less trying to replace them. You’ll also be able to grow your company without having to lease larger office space or without having to lease an additional office.

Another “pro” offering your team the option to work remotely is that you can expand your hiring pool. Instead of only hiring people who live nearby, you can look for new employees across the country. If you end up hiring someone who lives far away, you don’t need to offer to cover the cost of moving him or her, as the employee can remain in his or her current location.

Cons of Remote Work

One of the drawbacks of remote work is that it does blur the line between “home” and “work” for some people. In some cases, that can mean that you have employees who feel that they need to be available and need to response to emails, texts or calls at all times of day or night. In 2014, the New York Times reported that people worked remotely worked 9.5 percent longer than those who worked in an office.

Of course, it’s also possible for productivity to slip when people start working remotely. Some employees need the structured environment found in a traditional office space to help them concentrate on their tasks and get their work done.

Another major drawback of remote work is that it can create division among employees, especially if some employees work in a traditional office and some work from home. Those who work at home might feel out of the loop while those who come into work might feel that they are the ones carrying the weight and doing all the heavy lifting. To keep that division from becoming an issue, it might be a good idea to take an all or nothing approach to work remote. Have each employee stay at home and work — managers included — at least once per week.

How to Tell if Remote Work Is Right for Your Employees

If your employees are asking to be allowed to work from home, that can be a sign that allowing remote work is going to be a good option for your company. You can try it on a trial basis, giving your team the option to work from home for a month, to see if there is an improvement in satisfaction and productivity or not.  Offering the option to work remotely might also be a good idea if your company is growing by hiring new people but doesn’t want to rent additional office space.

New Direction Capital can help your company find ways to save money as it grows. To learn more about working with a part-time CFO and how it can help your business, contact us today.

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Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThanks to advances in technology, these days, there are many roles that can be performed without ever having to step foot in an office.  In fact, work-from-home or remote positions have increased by 115 percent since 2005, about 10 times faster than the rest of workforce, according to Around 3 percent of employees work from home at least half of the time.

While working remotely has its benefits, such as increased productivity, it does present a few challenges. One of those is how to manage a team when no one ever sees each other in person.

Define Expectations

Your employees need to know what they are expected to do each week, when assignments are due, and what your other expectations are for the week. Work with your team to set goals for performance and to set specific target dates for those goals. Have a plan for the week ahead, the month ahead, and the year ahead, and go from there.

Using a project management system, like Basecamp, can help keep everyone on course and help you define and manage expectations. You can use the program to assign tasks, communicate with your team, and keep track of client preferences.

Stay in Contact

When you aren’t seeing your employees daily, you’ll need to make an extra effort to keep lines of communication open with them. Luckily, there are many ways to stay in touch with your team, even if half of you are on the east coast and the other half are on the west coast. Slack is a great tool for chatting with your team, no matter what time of day. You can use Skype or Google Hangouts to schedule video conferences or the regular phone for quick check-ins when needed.

Video can be particularly useful when managing a remote team, as you’ll be able to show, not tell, your employees about current projects. You’ll be able to share screenshots with them on the video or can use other visual aids throughout the conference.

Get to Know Your Team

Another downside of remote work is that the social aspect of working in an office is gone. Remote workers don’t really get to stand around in the break room, talking about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”

That means you’ll need to make an extra effort to get to know your team members, so that they don’t feel like just a number. Getting to know your team also helps them feel more part of the company and that their work and input is valued. Take a few minutes for an icebreaker at the start of video conferences or other phone or chat check-ins. You can also record everyone’s birthday and send a card or other type of gift to employees on their birthdays. The same goes for holiday cards and gifts.

Check in From Time to Time

Although working from home has its benefits, it can be helpful to schedule in-person check ins with your team members from time to time. Those in-person meetings help your employees feel more like they are part of the company and can also be helpful for keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to what’s going on in the business.

These meetings don’t have to take place very often, but they should be regular and anticipated. For example, when you hire someone, you can let him or her know that there’s a semi-annual all hands, in person meeting.

Hire the Right People

One way to make managing a remote team easier is to hire the right people for that team. You don’t want to have to micro-manage your work-from-home employees, so it’s important to hire people that can get their work done without having someone looking over their shoulder. Ideally, your work-from-home employees will be able to work independently, will be self-motivated and organized.

Another thing to think about when hiring a person for a remote job is whether that person will do well working solo on a regular basis. While some people are happy to work on their own, plenty of others thrive on the social interactions of an office. Those social butterflies might struggle if they need to work in a quiet setting everyday.

New Direction Capital‘s virtual CFO services are here to help you grow and manage your business. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.

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