How to Successfully Manage a Remote Workforce

How to Manage Employees

Remote Worker

Remote workers used to be an exception. Now, they're becoming a rule, suggests job-search site FlexJobs, whose 2018 State of the Remote Job Marketplace report shows that 2.9 percent of the U.S. workforce now works from home "at least half of the time," and 43 percent works remotely "at least occasionally."

But having remote workers isn't the same as succeeding with remote workers. If you want your employees to be as productive at home as they are in the office, you'll need to keep a few things in mind, author Elizabeth Dunn writes in an article for, in which she shares best practices gleaned from Acceleration Partners, a company whose workforce is entirely remote.

First, you'll need to hire the right folks. "Acceleration looks for specific attributes in a new hire: Has the person worked remotely before? Is she a voracious learner? Is she an independent decision-maker?" Dunn reports. "Typically, Acceleration likes to see candidates who gravitate to telecommuting to enable their life's other passions, like travel, triathlons or parenting -- rather than those looking for a more relaxed pace of life. This makes for a more fulfilling life for [the] employee, and a more energized member of [the] company."

Performance goals also are important. "While geography and business hours at Acceleration are flexible, the company ensures results by keeping performance goals rigid," Dunn continues. "Managers track output and customer satisfaction rather than hours. An 'accountability chart' lists each employee's top five responsibilities, and each quarter, every employee sets personal performance goals based on the company's quarterly targets. Progress is reviewed when the three months are up."

The final ingredient to remote-workforce success: leadership buy-in. "Having leaders and managers who believe it's possible to be productive outside an office -- and who do some of their work outside themselves -- can make a big difference in the organization's ability to incorporate remote work," Dunn concludes. "Many … agree to the setup to try to retain a valuable employee but believe deep down that 'working at home' means not working at all. That's not a recipe for success."

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