Working remotely has become much more common, with a 26% increase in the number of remote job listings posted in 2014. While new technology makes it easier than ever to employ virtual personnel, some employers are reluctant to do so. They cite various concerns that all boil down to whether virtual employees are as productive as in-office personnel, but many of these concerns are grounded in myth.
Here, we’ll dispel some of the most common myths about virtual employee productivity.
One of the main concerns employers express is that virtual employees are harder to monitor, if not impossible. Ultimately, this is grounded in the myth that one must constantly be monitoring every action an employee takes during the day to make sure they stay on task during work hours.
By and large, this is false. The key is to track the results of their work, not the working process itself, and that’s easy to do through project-management software, daily and weekly progress reports, and consistent communication via the internet.
In addition, if you feel the need to constantly monitor your employees’ every move, even if they are in the office, you may not have the right people. Good employees, whether remote or in-office, don’t need constant monitoring to be productive, so the key is finding the right people, not tightening monitoring protocols.
Distraction is a significant issue in the workplace, and some employers worry that those who work remotely aren’t going to be as focused as those within the office. Again, this comes down to who you hire, but the research shows that employees may actually be more productive when working remotely. In fact, 64% of employees feel they are more productive working from home than in the office, and they also report far less stress, which only improves employee engagement.
Other employers worry about communication, believing for some reason that if they can’t talk to employees in person at the office, it will somehow impede understanding and productivity.
While it may be true that they can’t talk to employees simply by walking over or phoning their desk, there are many ways to maintain clear, efficient communication with virtual employees. The most basic of these is email, but there are other methods as well, including video calls over Skype, web conferencing software like Zoom, and project collaboration applications.
Employee productivity is tied closely to their morale, and one way to improve employee morale is through a strong, positive company culture. Poor culture means poor employee engagement, and that can decrease productivity by 18%.
Understandably, some employers doubt this positive culture can be instilled in virtual employees if they are not physically present among their rank-and-file office workers. However, there are many ways to foster a strong company culture among remote employees.
Communication is key. Face-to-face meetings using video calls, creating an online presentation on your company’s culture, and encouraging virtual employees to work together and reach out for assistance all help improve employee engagement. This keeps everyone from feeling isolated while also instilling the core values of your company into your virtual workforce.
Ultimately, hiring virtual personnel doesn’t detract from productivity if you use the right tools and hire the right people. In some cases, you may even find you have more productive staff since they are often more effective at what they do and experience less stress from the workplace.