According to Western studies, by the year 2016 every second employee will work remotely. It is associated with high incidence of online communication tools. They provide an opportunity to address issues at a distance and hire staff from other cities.
But for many executives, remote work is still connected with the inability to manage employees and to track work time correctly. Here are a few recommendations on how to reverse these undesirable consequences.
Use modern telephony technologies
For the convenience of remote operation you want to use simple possibilities for online communication e.g. Virtual PBX. The VPBX service allows you to divert calls to SIP phones and mobile phones. This saves money on office equipment (everyone already has a cell phone), and on internal cables. It is also important that VPBX integrates with CRM systems, not to mention the opportunity to use a time tracker to track phone calls and keep a record of working time.
Use video conferencing tools
The ability to broadcast video is a necessary element of work with remote employees. If team members are dispersed to different cities, the ideal solution will be a virtual meeting. It can simultaneously engage up to 100 people. To organize such a meeting only a phone and a computer with Internet access is required. VPBX service makes it possible to reassign roles of participants directly during the meeting. The meeting is recorded in real time and thanks to this tool, the manager would be able to assess the cost of organizing the meeting, its duration, activity of the participants, etc. This is an additional opportunity to track time and attendance of remote employees.
Benefit from collaborative work on documents
To make time tracking more transparent it is useful to take advantage of Google Docs. Nothing particularly complex will be needed, just use the email address and the Internet to bring all documents, articles, and other materials within reach of the team. Google Docs provides for the possibility of a “visible” editing and e-mail notifications of any changes made to documents.
Make plans using automated tools
In some cases, a real project manager can replaced with an online designer. Such programs are many, and they are, indeed, organize time and attendance. Most often, these services are easy to use and not time-consuming for staff to learn. Such systems allow to describe and configure the different settings of tasks for one or more employees. They provide an opportunity to assess quality, urgency, and importance of tasks. Employees can be assigned different privileges in online scheduler: they can assign tasks, perform tasks alone or as a team, or simply monitor projects.
Organize team via online chat
Online correspondence greatly simplifies interaction between employees. Skype is the most popular tool for this. It is easy to install, requires no additional hardware and can be used during the whole day regardless of time zone. Of course, it is indirectly related to time tracking and attendance, but allows to solve work tasks at any time.
Use automated time tracker and attendance software
To know exactly if remote employees use working time productively, a manager only needs to implement an automated time tracker and attendance software in a company. Does the remote employee works on a project at this particular moment? Or does he play Solitaire? The time tracker will collect data about what programs and websites the employee uses, and will show how much time is really spent on tasks. The time tracker software will provide the manager with the statistics on employees, branches, regional offices, and the entire company. To prevent drawbacks of remote employment and take advantage of its benefits, an employer should consider in advance what tools can be used to address foreseeable problems. Proper preparation will help to avoid unpleasant surprises and to take advantage of powerful team of remote employees.