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How to Enhance the Efficiency of Your Remote Employees

December 3, 2019

How to Enhance the Efficiency of Your Remote Employees

This blog was originally published on December 2, 2019 to address the shift towards remote work that many workplaces have been adopting over the last few years. However, we hope that this information will be helpful as many more organizations are now enforcing remote work policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus). 


Whether you lead employees who work remotely full time or simply take work home with them from time to time, organizations should be concerned with how efficiently and securely employees produce work while they are away from the office.  Here is a checklist of key considerations to ensure remote workers' productivity is a top priority for your organization.  

  1. Ensure remote workers have access to secure file storage locations through VPN or other secure networks. Provide employees training on how to access files as well as how to get IT support should they need it when they are away from the office. When remote workers do not have an efficient way to access files, they resort to emailing key documents to themselves − or worse, printing them for reference. This creates opportunities for potential exposure of sensitive information and unnecessary risk for organizations. It may also result in version control issues when remote workers are collaborating on documents with other team members.  

  2. Encourage employees to leverage Skype or other instant messaging and collaboration systems while away from their primary office. This ensures that other people know how to get in touch with them as quickly as they could if they were physically present. Otherwise, remote workers often miss out on important real-time communications, inadvertently cause delays on tasks for which others are dependent on them, and lose out on opportunities to weigh in on decisions which need to be made urgently.   

  3. Require that all meetings have an open phone line, and when possible, use video conferencing capabilities. In today's world there are few excuses for holding an in-person meeting that is closed to employees who wish to participate, but are not physically present. More often than is necessary, remote workers are shut out from meetings when they cannot participate in person. Given the ubiquity of connectivity software and devices and the increased desire for flexibility from employees, if your organization's culture is not promoting this practice, people will feel less empowered to contribute and may be more likely to leave your organization for one that offers greater flexibility. This is not just true for Millennials as many believe. There are other generations feeling the pressure of work-life demands too, from caring for young children or aging parents to avoiding punishing commutes. For more, check out this remote hiring strategy advice from one of PSI's remote employees.

  4. Inquire about the opinions and ideas of remote participants during meetings. Often, people who are co-located in a meeting forget there are remote participants on the phone or make the assumption that their silence means they are multi-tasking or not paying attention. It is more likely the case that they are not able to see when others are speaking and pausing and have a hard time breaking into the conversation. Take a moment to pause during the meeting and ask for their input. To some it may seem like calling on remote workers puts them on the spotbut they often appreciate the chance to speak and may even have been striving to interject for some time. Video conferencing is also helpful for facilitating conversation. This allows remote participants to see who is in the room and when there is a dip in the conversation in which to jump in and share their ideas without abruptly cutting others off.  

  5. Have candid conversations and/or a contract in place to ensure there is a clear understanding of what is expected when working remotely. People leveraging this flexible work arrangement should know that it is a privilege and should be fully informed on how they can retain it. If expectations are not met and this benefit interferes with productivity, organizations should be ready to withhold it for a period of time. Upon introducing it, organizations may consider instituting a probationary period to evaluate if the individual's work style and resources are suited to this arrangement. Remote workers should be able to be trusted to self-manage. This means they should have access to the materials and technology required to produce work as quickly and as accurately as they would in the office, and most importantly, they need to have a quiet, distraction-free environment in which to perform their work. Nothing less than ideal should be accepted unless it is reasonable and agreed upon in advance.  

Managing Remote Workers

Corina Rice Corina Rice PhD, is currently a Senior Consultant on the Talent Solutions team with PSI Services LLC. She has 15 years of consulting experience, focusing on the assessment and development of talent within large organizations. Dr. Rice is also a certified coach delivering individual and team-based feedback on various development assessment as well as multi- source feedback tools. She has developed and implemented pre-hire assessment systems for the military, transportation, police, retail, banking and technology industries, including off-the-shelf and custom-built solutions. Her work spans organizations with union employees, as well as hourly, salaried, and executive positions.