5 Small Business Owners Share Tips to Manage Remote Workers

By: Andrea Lotz Monday January 25, 2016 comments Tags: working remotely, employees


1. “It takes all kinds to make impactful work.”

Sage Smith, Creative Director, Limitless Interactive

“As a creative advertising agency, it takes all kinds to make impactful work, and our policy is a flex schedule for all employees, no question asked.

"It takes all kinds to make impactful work, & our policy is a flex schedule." [Tweet this]

One of our art directors is a renowned local painter, and often, she'll have an idea for an ad campaign while painting. She's able to drop in at any hour of the day or night -- last night, it was 1 A.M. -- and submit ideas the team can consider in the morning.

It's allowed us to harness the transient nature of spontaneous creativity in a way no other agency can.”

2. “These benefits have increased employee morale.”

Jacob Savage, President, Speak Creative

“We work a modified schedule of 7am-5pm Mon-Thurs, and then 7a-11a every Friday, giving us a 2.5 day weekend. We also have flex time and remote time built in each month that does not count against our vacation or sick time.

Remote time allows us to work away from our normal office, including a coffee shop, a vacation spot, etc but is reserved for normal business hours. Flex time ensures that if we have something personal pop up through our day, we can attend to it, and still get our work done.

These benefits have increased employee morale and allow our employees to be more intentional with their time, whether it's to attend a family affair, volunteer somewhere they are passionate, or just take time away to clear their minds. This also allows us to use our best productivity time towards a project, and minimizes lapses in productivity due to distractions.

Challenges we have faced are making sure to schedule this flexible time around our clients who operate in normal working hours. We work hard to make sure we don't let this time put off our clients' needs and that we are still responsible for getting work done within our normal day-to-day. We are constantly using email, IM and project management tools to keep communication flowing even when team members are out of the office.”

"Schedule flexible time around clients who operate in normal working hours." [Tweet this]

3. “They aren’t chained to their desks.”

Ben Walker, President & CEO, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC

“We have remote flexible employees all over the US. It has helped us in a few different ways.

It allows us to be available more hours of the day to accommodate clients in each of the different time zones during their ‘working’ hours.

It also allows our employees the freedom to do other things during the day, such as dropping their kids off at school, or simply going to the grocery store. This has in turn helped us increase employee retention and job satisfaction because they aren’t chained to their desks.

"Increase employee retention...because they aren’t chained to their desks." [Tweet this]

It has also helped us cut costs because we have to pay more for employees here in the office in Denver because of the cost of living here, car, time in the car, and clothing. Working from home doesn’t require fancy clothes, a car, buying gas for your car, or a commute time to consider to and from your home every day.

The technology piece is much easier than it was five years ago. Tools help tremendously, but they haven’t replaced meeting and talking in person. That seems to be our biggest challenge with our remote staff. We can’t see each other’s body language, hear the tone of voice, or look each other in the eye when we are speaking. So things can be lost in translation when it’s mostly text or even when we have a conference call and you aren’t quite sure if the other person is upset or not.

Overall I am glad we have done this and we plan to continue.”

4. “Doing it this way has been incredibly effective.”

Noel Wax, President, GroundSwell Group

“We initially got an office but realized it was not the most efficient use of our funds and if we hired professional, mature, hard working people we would get a lot more out of them by giving them the freedom to create their own work schedules as long as the work gets done.

"Freedom to create their own work schedules as long as the work gets done." [Tweet this]

Doing it this way has been incredibly effective. We often email and talk late into the evening, but we also can drop our kids at school, pick them up, attend a 10am yoga class, etc. And we save the minimum 30 minute drive to and from work each day. We meet at coffee shops, hotel lobbies, libraries, and anywhere we want which give us a fresh new perspective.”

5. “Let people work when and where they’re most productive.”

Dave Kramer, Founder, AllProWebTools

“I am so glad that our culture is starting to shift toward more flexible work hours and more remote work, because I firmly believe it only makes sense to let people work when and where they’re most productive.

"It only makes sense to let people work when and where they’re most productive." [Tweet this]

That being said, no business owner can afford a team that takes advantage of those policies. And, every business owner can benefit by having a rock solid understanding of how each member of the team spends their time.

So, the question is, where is that meeting place between flexibility and accountability? How can we gather clear insights about remote employees, without making them feel micromanaged? For me, the answer is transparency.

The software solution I have developed with my team, AllProWebTools, contains a live feed that lets me know every time an employee clocks in, makes progress on a task, interacts with a client, or sends a marketing email. I can also look deeper to see how employees are making use of tools like our internal live chat system, and how much time they spend on specific projects for clients.

This allows my remote employees to do what they do best, on their own schedule, where they’re most productive. I get insight into their activities without a lot of work on their part, and without them feeling like I’m looking over their shoulder.

We’ve created a virtual office, all within the AllProWebTools console, where employees of a small business can collaborate independently on tasks, pass information around the office without uttering a word, and still deliver total accountability to management.

Don’t be afraid to embrace flexibility in your business, as long as you also embrace accountability and transparency.”

How do you manage remote employees in your business? Post your recommendations in the comments!

Andrea Lotz

About the Author: Andrea Lotz

Andrea is the resident writer for AllProWebTools. She loves to write about just about anything, especially small businesses, sustainability, and whatever is new and upcoming on the horizon.  She lives in Fort Collins and spends her free time cycling, welding, cooking, and playing ukulele. 

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