Telecommuting is fast becoming the way businesses work and curb costs instead of operating traditional brick-and-mortar workplaces. An estimated nearly four million Americans currently telecommute or work from home. This number is expected to increase dramatically over the next few years due to a number of factors. Brands and businesses are taking an online approach to manage their workers, which includes teams of telecommuters. For this reason, prudent training is key.

Some management strategies for training and retaining top-notch telecommuters include:

Provide Positivity

Effective managers or training leaders provide positive reassurance to their teams. Working from home can be isolating, especially when you encounter issues or new challenges. Take the time to affirm what your team is doing and recognize exemplary performances. Communicate sincerely and in ways that show your team dignity and respect.

Teaching newbies technical skills can be frustrating, don’t let it rattle you A major training tip is to practice patience. Don’t take silence from your remote staff as a sign that things are going smoothly. Instead, make the effort to check in with them to provide encouragement.

Define Your Expectations

Without direct, in-person supervision, it can become difficult to determine expectations or how to progress. Make your expectations and job requirements clear from the first day. Reaffirm that your telecommuters understand their functions and encourage them to ask questions.

Try not to overwhelm your team with new information but provide easy-to-access resources that they may use to troubleshoot on their own. This will help them move past their hurdles and will also give your remote workers the confidence to find solutions to their problems autonomously. Don’t think of job policies and guidelines as restrictive but as clear outlines for your team to follow.

Pay Promptly

A big issue for work-from-home and telecommuting workers is money, more specifically pay problems. Nobody wants to be overlooked on payday. Ensure that your payroll system is in place and can handle the addition of telecommuters before you hire and begin training your new team members.

Pay your workers promptly and without hassle. Freelancers may leave if they aren’t being paid on time. By looking out for your staff, including telecommuters, you can build a loyal team.

Make Yourself Available

Make yourself available during training and beyond for your remote workers and staff. Try to talk over the phone every so often so your telecommuters feel a personal connection to you as their leader.

Email messages are another key way to communicate. While they help document and track conversations, communications, and agreements, there should also be some personal elements in your messages in order to foster trust and rapport. Time spent talking with your telecommuters is time well spent, because they are worth it.

Model Good Habits

Foster good habits with tips that aid efficacy and efficiency for working from home. Trainers and supervisors have common protocols and habits that help make them successful. Consider sharing these tips and modeling these behaviors for your team:

  • Make a list of goals for the day. Check things off as they are completed.
  • Save time and avert crises by using cloud-based storage to back up files and documents.
  • Take time to prepare for the day so you can begin work relaxed, not harried.
  • Set up a functioning office space. A dedicated workspace can help at-home workers feel more professional.
  • Optimize and upgrade your technology for ease, convenience, and efficiency.

Encourage Health

One of the benefits of telecommuting is that you don’t have to leave home to work if you’re sick. You also don’t have to spend eight hours a day with others who are sick, a definite plus during cold and flu season. But, that doesn’t mean that working from home means you can ignore sickness entirely.

If your employees are sick during training and beyond, urge them to seek medical attention. If they’re struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, you can encourage them to seek help at Sunshine Behavioral Health and to find other treatment assistance. Employees may have to take time off of work, but if they’re struggling, there’s a good chance that their productivity is also already suffering.

Give your employees the time — and the resources, such as sick pay — to heal. They may repay you with loyalty and hard work.

Document Daily

It is imperative to maintain detailed records during training to keep track of everyone. You may want to manage your at-home team with Google Docs or Excel spreadsheets to track and measure progress at a glance.

Record information pertaining to your telecommuters, such as their contact information, training tasks, deadlines, and payments. Consider identifying where the telecommuters are working and their time zones to make communications more timely and convenient.

Train your telecommuting team members as you would other employees or staff members. Use these tips to manage and maintain a strong telecommuting workforce. You can use these suggestions to create a top-notch work-from-home team that rivals teams working at brick-and-mortar businesses.

The flexibility and convenience of telecommuting can help foster loyal, diligent workers who are both productive and engaged. Use these strategies to capitalize on these traits and you might enhance overall business operations — and subsequent revenues. Training is key, so ensure your staff is in good hands with competent and conscientious team leaders.

Sources – The State of Telecommuting in the U.S. in 2017 – 5 Tips for Managing Telecommuters – Get More Done: 18 Tips for Telecommuters