These days, more workers than ever are working remotely. Technology has made working away from the office much easier and more efficient. But with more working in isolation, it has also raised some concerns with management, concerns about whether these remote workers are using their time wisely and productively.
Management wants to makes sure their workers are motivated and working hard. The question is, how do they do this?
Most job descriptions contain boilerplate terms like “self starter.” Companies all want people who are self starters. The problem is that it is difficult to assess how much of a self starter a person really is. The most commonly used measures are a person’s past performance at previous jobs, and the use of personality tests, which claim to measure traits such a work ethic, ambition, and motivation. These methods of evaluation are some possibilities open to management to assess whether a person is suited for working remotely.
Another avenue of assessment is talking with job candidates about any past experience they might have had working remotely. To really get a feel whether the candidate can handle such an arrangement, the interviewer needs to find out how the person felt about the arrangement, what his or her schedule was while working remotely, how well the person adhered to the schedule, how the person felt about being cut off from the home office, and how the person planned his or her day and how he got his work done.
You also want to talk directly with candidates about working alone. Find out how much thought they have given to the possibility, and whether they have worked out any methods for handling such an arrangement. You preferably want to hire people who have thought the situation through, rather than those who really don’t know how they feel about it, only to learn after they have tried it that they don’t like it, or cannot handle the freedom.
Remote workers also need to have good support from management. That means clear deadlines that are enforced and timely feedback on work done. You cannot expect remote workers to perform well if they are not managed well. You can use some of the same management techniques for remote workers that you use for office-based employees – developing a detailed schedule, and providing routine progress reports, for example. You can also have a project manager who oversees remote workers to ensure daily and weekly goals are met.