5 Tips for Training a Virtual Workforce
More and more companies are looking for ways to cut costs that don’t require them to lay off the labor that ensures they can get the job done and continue to offer the high level of service that their customers have come to expect. And while some are doing waste assessments and finding ways to cut energy and water consumption, others have realized the value of a growing trend: the virtual workforce.
Not only are there plenty of people in the job market seeking work-from-home opportunities that allow them to freelance and telecommute, but some businesses are opting to keep full-time employees on staff but send them home to complete their work remotely.
Of course, transferring from a standard office environment to a work-from-home capacity can be difficult for some employees, so here are just a few tips to help ensure that the company seeking a virtual workforce can train their staff to operate without a boss looking over their shoulder.
1. Time Management Skills
One of the biggest hurdles for most employees who end up working at home is trying to figure out how to manage their time when a flexible schedule becomes an option. You can most easily combat the potential for wasted time by requiring virtual employees to stick to a standard schedule for operations (9-5, for example), along with allotments for traditional break times (a set lunch hour and so on). When remote workers continue to treat their daytime hours as work hours they should be able to stay on task and manage their time just as they do in an office setting, but you might have to give them the skills and scheduling that ensure they stick with it.
When a boss walks in the door and asks for an update, employees are motivated to get work done in a timely manner. But with no supervisors on hand in the home environment, virtual employees may be prone to slacking off. This can be bad for the company, which suffers from a loss of efficiency and productivity, but it can also be bad for employees, who fail to take pride in their work.
But how do you train a virtual workforce to self-motivate? There are a couple of options. You can start by giving them the skills that will enable them to act as their own manager. But you might also use project management software that sets up daily tasks, milestones, and check-ins to help keep employees working from afar. And you could also require virtual employees to install tracking software on their computers that sends in screen shots periodically to ensure that they’re staying on task instead of surfing the web or watching YouTube videos.
When employees have to act as their own boss in a virtual work setting it’s important to ensure that they know how to work expediently, so teaching them how to prioritize when they’re dealing with multiple projects or tasks is a must.
4. Video Chats
It’s unwise to leave virtual workers to their own devices for too long. They need instruction and feedback periodically to ensure that they remain productive and connected to the company that sends their paychecks. So schedule frequent video chats with supervisors (weekly or even daily) as a way to reinforce the employer/employee bond and ensure continued productivity.
5. Ongoing Education
Training happens naturally within the office setting thanks to collaboration between employees, as well as courses offered on-site. But when employees are working from home it’s in your best interest to provide software, CISSP online training, and the like via virtual means. Continuing to educate your workforce, in-office or virtual, is an important part of moving your business forward, so don’t neglect training just because your workers happen to be offsite.
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