18/03/2015

By Stuart Hearn, CEO of OneTouchTeam

Remote working is a rising trend, opening up a wider talent pool to give companies and small businesses more flexibility when it comes to hiring the right professionals. According to research from the ONS, in early 2014 there were 4.2 million UK home workers, making up a total of 13.9% of the workforce. There is no sign of this trend slowing down with Virgin Media Business predicting that by 2022, 60% of office-based employees will work from home on a regular basis.

While there are many benefits to employing a team of remote workers for your business, keeping track of their work can be more of a challenge. Fortunately, there are tools which can help employers to implement an effective management strategy.

Communication

Good communication is at the core of every successful business. Effective communication has been cited as the biggest concern for companies employing remote workers, according to a LinkedIn poll by the Sage Alliance. Lack of face-to-face communication could be detrimental to a business, which is why it’s essential to provide your team with messaging, videoconferencing and online meeting software. Free software such as Skype or Google Hangouts can work for new companies and very small businesses, but as your organisation grows it may be worth investing in tools such as Yammer, JoinMe and Citrix’s GoToMeeting.

File Sharing

With people working on different tasks and projects from all over the country, or even the world, it’s essential to have a centralised place which is accessible to everyone to store those files. Google Docs, Dropbox and Box.com are great options for secure file sharing, allowing multiple file users. You can upload documents and images, create spreadsheets and edit in real-time onto Google documents. These can be accessed from different devices too.

Project Management

You’ll quickly find that assigning work via email and not being able to leave a memo on an employee’s desk will make managing the team’s projects difficult to keep track of. Project management software can make the process simpler, smoother and more efficient. Pivotal Tracker is a programme which allows you to see all your tasks on one screen via an attractive infographic style interface. Another project management option is Wrike, which connects tasks and collaborators as well as tracking progress.

Staff Leave Planning

Keeping track of remote workers’ time off is a vital component of any virtual workforce but can often be mismanaged when you’re busy ensuring all of your company’s projects are underway. For small businesses and those without a dedicated HR department it can be time consuming too. A staff leave planner can reduce admin by planning holiday time online as well as monitoring staff sickness.

Time Tracking and Invoicing

Tracking hours worked by remote workers can certainly be a challenge. The best solution is to employ time tracking software, such as Hubstaff, which can keep a record of the time your staff work and even measures their productivity. If you need to bill clients for your employees’ time, an invoicing system can then be used to send an online PDF invoice via email. Invoiceable is an example of a online app which can quickly send invoices and record when payment has been received.