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Hiring remote workers can be a total game changer for your business. It not only allows you to work with the best talent without having to stick to national borders, but it can also boost your team's productivity and overall performance. However, there are also a few risks that companies looking to hire remotely should be aware of, because realising potential obstacles and challenges can help you minimise these risks and create a flourishing and effective workforce.
One of the biggest risks when working with a globally distributed team is upholding compliance and security standards. For example, if your employees are not working in an office but in a coworking space or from home, they have to ensure that confidential conversations cannot be overheard and are also responsible for locking their computers whenever they step away from their desk.
While it is easier to control this behaviour in an office environment, you have to trust your remote workers to do the right thing. That’s why it is crucial to offer the right training that is adjusted to address the unique challenges of working remotely - and to frequently remind your employees of these issues.
Another important aspect is IT security. You cannot expect your remote workers to apply the same security measures to their own personal computer network as you would in the office. Therefore, it is your responsibility as the employer to provide your team with well-protected office equipment as well as access to licenses and software that help protect their internet and server connection. And if you are unable to provide this equipment, you should at the very least offer training in regards to the security risks of public WiFi, how to spot phishing emails, and the potential dangers of downloading unknown files.
COVID has not only taught us that working from home is possible in areas where for the longest time many employers thought it wasn’t, but it has also shown a light on the impacts long periods of isolation and disconnection from other people can have. As a result, mental health has finally started to be on the forefront of company’s minds and addressing the strain remote work can put on one’s mental well-being is crucial for any remote employer.
A 2019 study from Digital Ocean found that 29% of remote workers feel excluded from offline team conversations. So, ensuring your remote employees always have enough time and space for social interactions despite their physical distance is crucial for creating a healthy team culture. This can be leaving 5 minutes before every meeting specifically for social chatter, or organising digital get-togethers on a Friday afternoon for everyone to wrap up the week and have a more casual exchange.
Regularly checking in on your remote workers well-being and making sure they are feeling valued is another good approach to preventing the feeling of disconnection. Encourage them to take regular breaks and switch off completely on weekends and after work hours.
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Finally, keeping your distributed team motivated and productive is another big challenge for remote employers. Some workers might have a hard time staying on task with the many distractions lurking in their home office, or simply can’t find the motivation to perform to the best of their abilities.
Providing your team with time management and productivity tools can be a good solution to tackle these issues. Some people simply need a bit of structure to pull them through the day, while others work best with deadlines allocated to their tasks.
But make sure you don’t use a one-site-fits-all approach to boost your team’s productivity. Some team members might struggle to work in the mornings, while others excel in the early hours of the day, but then like to unwind for a bit over their lunch break. Allow your workers to find a structure that works best for them and you will probably find them to perform way better and be much happier than if they are being forced to adapt to a schedule that doesn’t match theirs. Just make sure to communicate your expectations around work hours and meeting etiquette beforehand.
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