Increasing numbers of employers are discovering the benefits of allowing their staff more flexible work options, and particularly the advantages of letting employees work from home. With workers and managers being in completely separate locations though, what can businesses do to ensure that communications between managers, staff and team members are still regular and meaningful?
Communication is clearly one of the biggest issues for anyone who is trying to manage staff who aren’t even in the same building, let alone sitting just across the desk. This is something that many managers have been dealing with for years however. Some, for example, have had to manage teams of workers who are scattered all around a region or even a country, and others have been responsible for mobile workers who they are only able to meet with face-to-face on a weekly basis or less.
Of course, the options to stay in touch via person-to-person and conference calls over landlines and cell phones have been available for some time, and e-mail has been the preferred option for many remote workers for decades. With e-mails in particular though, they can not only be far too easy to ignore, but they also have a tendency to get lost amongst the hundreds of others awaiting attention in people’s inboxes. Even if this isn’t the case, they still rate low in terms of the kind of personal interaction that ought to exist between managers and their staff in particular.
When it comes to more personalized contact at a distance, Skype has to be one of the best tools available, and of course their video conference call facility is ideal for taking team meetings into workers’ homes. Even this option, however, takes some of the instantaneousness out of the contact between managers and their staff and between team members. With instant messaging though, one-to-one real-time “conversations” can not only take place without prior arrangement, but of course they don’t cost anything either.
Telephone calls and e-mails between team members, between members of different teams and between managers and their staff do, of course, still have their place, but it’s important to look at other options as well. Skype and instant messaging are just two of the useful technologies which are available today to support better communications between remote workers, but of course tomorrow could bring something even better.