The mobile workforce continues to grow with each passing day as companies employees move operations towards the cloud and to mobile apps across hundreds of devices. As companies hire more mobile workers, managing them can become a bit of a challenge, even for the most experienced management team.
When it comes to managing the schedules of remote employees, companies need to define when employees are supposed to be on the clock.
Issues with Remote Employees
It’s nice to have remote employees on the payroll because you can hire the most talented people available for your open jobs without paying them to relocate. The downside to this is not seeing them face-to-face each day. Another downside is that they can pretty much pick their own schedule, within reason. But, will they truly work when they say they will? We aren’t saying that remote employees will take advantage of their situation, but it is a possibility every company must consider when hiring for such a role.
Use Video as Much as Possible
Video chat has become so popular these days with the advent of Skype and Facetime. There are plenty of options out there, including Facebook Live, for you to chat with or sent videos to others. As a manager, you need to use video as much as possible when managing remote employees. Connecting with your mobile employees via video lets them know you are concerned about how they are doing and also want to check in on their surroundings. If they are supposed to be working, but have a room full of people behind them on a video chat, it’s safe to say they might not be too focused.
Time & Attendance Systems
If your company employs a large number of remote employees, it is time to use time & attendance systems to track their hours on the clock. These systems help track PTO, FMLA and sick time, while also helping managers schedule thousands of employees at one shot without creating overlap. We will discuss some benefits of time & attendance systems so you can manage schedules of remote employees.
Ability to Submit Availability
Absence management software makes it easy for your remote employees to submit their availability. They can load a calendar in a browser, insert which days they can work, and then you can populate the schedule based on the availability submitted by all the employees.
These systems also make it nearly impossible to schedule multiple employees for the same time slot, especially if they are performing the same task. Preventing overlap in scheduling is an important feature every scheduling manager needs. Remote workers, especially if they are in different time zones, might need to work congruently on certain items. The system will allow you to schedule employees at the same time if you put in an administrative override.
Set Schedule Reminders
Once you have populated the schedule, you can set reminders for each employee. They can be sent out 24 hours in advance of a shift and as often as you’d like leading up to the scheduled shift. This makes it easier for remote employees to remember when they are scheduled to work, especially if they are a consultant or freelancer who might be working for other companies aside from yours.
Track Time Worked
Absence management systems can also track time worked and provide a comprehensive report for management and payroll when needed. If you need to check on the status of a remote employee, simply log into the system to see if he or she has clocked in lately. If not, you can broach the topic the next time you speak.
If you are worried that remote employees will try to bill for too many hours each pay period, you can put a limit on the hours they work right in the system. If they get to login and signup for open shifts, you can limit them based on number of shifts worked per week, per month or hours worked per week or month. This puts a stranglehold on payroll and you don’t need to constantly monitor the situation for abusers.
Shift Call Times
If your remote employees have to sit on conference calls multiple times per week, consider shifting call times if they are in different time zones. You don’t want to frustrate one group of remote employees to satisfy another due to difference in time. You don’t want to purposely inconvenience one group over another, but with remote employees, it’s bound to happen. If it happens often, change the call times routinely so everyone has to be inconvenienced at one time or another.
Remote employees have become a large part of the workforce in the United States over the past five years and the numbers continue to grow. Take the time to learn how to properly manage the schedules for remote employees to avoid running into any problems.