In our modern world, businesses are bigger, their influence is larger, and they’re connecting with customers out of state or even out of country. Even if you’re a small scale operation, some travel will be necessary to meet with your customers. And, if you want to continue to grow, utilizing remote employees to establish and maintain customer relations is a modern day obligation. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind for remote employees:

Old Concept, New Age

Traveling for business is a common idea in U.S. culture and it’s something that’s often looked forward to, or used as an incentive, for workers. It’s no surprise that as a business grows and becomes more successful, it will expand its reach of influence and try to gain prominence in other markets or geographical locations.

According to a Credit Donkey article, 448 million business trips are taken annually by U.S. employees. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics states that 84% of business trip travel is done less than 250 miles from the origin location and 81% of all business trip travel is done through the use of a personal vehicle.

What do these numbers tell us?

Mobile/ remote employees are a popular concept and the majority of businesses are using them to accomplish specific tasks. If your physical business cannot be in the same location as a customer, you’ll use the next best option: remote employees.

Out of office employees aren’t just contained to business trip travel anymore, many times businesses hire remote employees for specific reasons.

Is It Worth It?

Every business owner wants to increase the productivity and efficiency of their workers. The one who works the most efficiently often has the competitive edge, and that means everything in today’s business world.

There have been countless studies and “easy to implement” workplace changes to accomplish this. Everything from redesigned break rooms to better office chairs have been used by countless employers, but nearly every solution suggested costs at least something.

So, why not try an easy solution that won’t cost anything? Read on.

The workplace operates differently now than in past generations, and the same goes for how employees work best. Several studies have shown that remote employees actually are more productive outside of the office.

Many business owners are using remote employees to simultaneously increase workflow and productivity while keeping costs low.

This may seem contradictory, but I’ll tell you how it’s possible.

5 Benefits of Remote Employees

Sure Payroll illustrates how workplace distractions like gossip, loud co-workers, or impromptu meetings prohibit employees from being as productive as they could be. Additionally, 65% of employees surveyed in the their study agreed that working remotely would increase productivity.

1. Boosts Efficiency

This will give a sense of comfort and allow employees to focus solely on working more productively, if they can minimize or eliminate the distractions that occur around them.

2. Increases Morale and Decreases Stress 

Allowing your employees certain freedoms will increase their positive association with your company.  There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than being rushed in the early morning. Between the rush hour traffic and constant stream of “to do” tasks flooding in, it’s no surprise that employees associate the office with stress.

Little incentives and rewards can make all the difference. A change of scenery and pace occasionally may be all it takes to keep your employees performing at their best. The happier your employees are the more likely they are to stay!

3.  Lowers Cost

If your employees aren’t working in the office, they don’t need a desk or chair. It can save money on little things too, like buying less coffee and snacks for the break room. Less employees working in office means you won’t need as big of a space to house them all either.

4. Helps the Environment

Go green to save green! Working remotely cuts down on the amount of fuel used and emitted driving to and from the office every day, drastically reducing the carbon footprint. It can also lessen the amount of waste produced by businesses including paper products and fast food containers.

5. Attracts Younger Employees, Retains Older Employees

Working remotely is the future of business. Younger employees are consistently advocating for a modernized workplace environment with less restrictions, and older employees would be more comfortable with a flexible work environment.

Remote employees allow businesses to put their customer’s needs first by adapting to different time zones, schedules, and location. Great business will always go the extra mile working with their customers to ensure the best possible experience. Utilizing traveling employees increases a business’s influential reach while also building customer relations.

3 Risks of Remote Employees

Like anything else, there are potential risks and consequences to implementing new employee practices. The benefits vs risks debate will differentiate per businesses and industry, so I encourage you to use the following as cautions and not a finite statement.

1. Risk: Disconnected Employee

According to a Harvard Business Review study, remote employees have reported feeling disconnected from their co-workers because of the lack of physical interaction with them. This weaken bonds and lowers trust between colleagues, making collaboration difficult.  

Solution: Develop a Check In Schedule

This can either be video (like skype), phone, messaging, or even face-to-face meet ups. Place priority on co-workers communicating and updating each other on complications, successes, and  progress.

2. Risk: Distracted Employee

Many employers fear that their employees may become less productive if they’re not confined to constant, unchanging environment. While there is validity to this concern, there are methods to overcome it.

Solution: Set Your Standards

It’s important to be clear about your expectations for remote employees. Setting precise goals and expected outcomes help keep employees on task and manage their time accordingly.

3. Risk: Dated Employees

Some mobile employees are still using obsolete tech devices when working out of office. This limits the capabilities they have to do their jobs correctly and can inhibit necessary communication between co-workers and superiors.

Solution: Get Updated Technology

A Soft Choice study found that, “78% of employees experience frequent technological difficulties”. If you want your employees to perform at their best, they need to have access to top resources. Depending on your industry, this could mean company provided tablets and phones, subscriptions to advanced design tools, telecommunication applications, IM platforms etc.

The pros of remote and mobile employees clearly outweigh the cons. Yes, there are potential liabilities, but if you implement a solid action plan, those risks can be swiftly eliminated. Ultimately, traveling employees can be a great resource to help your business grow.

Get on Board or Get Left Behind

In our modern workforce, it’s “out with the old and in with the new”, literally. Millennials are replacing Baby Boomers and Gen X workers at a major rate and are changing the way business is conducted.

Millennials are a nomadic generation, constantly on the move and changing job after job. This new trend occurs because of technological advances like omnipresent internet access and the rising popularity of social media. Over everything, millennials value experiences they can document.

If their environment is bland, guess what? They’ll move to greener pastures. Unlike previous generations, millennials are more willing to sacrifice traditional job security in favor of engaging environments and versatile career opportunities. Millennials are all about change and adaptation.

“We’ve always done it this way” is the most deadly statement a business can make. Top companies know that in order to succeed long term, they need to anticipate or adapt the newest trends in the current culture.

In Conclusion

The remote employee is the face of the business future. As our culture develops and continues to make advances in technology, businesses must invest in new methods to remain competitive. Remote employees are the perfect fit for growing companies in the modern economy.

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