The longest commute in the UK is a 530 mile journey from the Orkney Islands to central London. Even if your daily trip to work is short by comparison (which we hope it would be), you’re not alone in feeling it’s getting longer. The average commute took 45 minutes in 2003, yet had increased to 54 minutes in 2011 according to the latest census data. Few people love their commute – from traffic jams to stressful train journeys or delayed buses, the stress and strain can drain energy from the start and end of your day.
Given how dreary commuting can be, it’s no surprise that remote working is growing in popularity across the UK and around the world. Combined with improved technology – video calling, instant messaging and cloud based productivity suites – working from home is now more feasible than ever before.
Source: ONS 2015
However, with employees out of the office and out of sight, many managers are, understandably, concerned that their people will spend more time lounging about than labouring. However, a recent Guardian article claimed remote workers are up to 13% more productive. Home workers are in fact less likely to get distracted by colleagues, phone calls and meetings, and the trust invested in them often pays off with more conscientious working.
How to manage remote resources
While remote working has its advantages, nobody’s claiming it’s problem free. Workers often miss the camaraderie of colleagues, and fear that being out of sight means they’ll be similarly out of mind when promotions come up. There are certain tasks that rely upon close, social interaction, and the management of resources when they’re spread around the country or even abroad can be tough for managers. It’s great if you can trust your people to work from a distance, yet it can be discouraging to come to a half-empty office each day.
Management Today recently discussed this issue in depth, and recommend key steps for managers and remote workers themselves:
Remote workers should:
- Consistently deliver targets on time to build trust
- Submit status reports of their activities
- Manage their own time responsibly – too much work can be as bad as too little
- Get their technology up to scratch
- Establish that remote working is a privilege, not a right
- Schedule regular meetings with remote workers
- Set clear deadlines and targets
When done well, remote working can really help an organisation save on costs, boost morale and increase productivity. As remote working grows as a workplace trend, it’s worth looking at your organisation’s policy and approach to home and distance working. Are you prepared to take advantage of the opportunities it offers?
The importance of resource management
There’s nothing new about managing resources from a distance. Thousands of companies have offices and teams based in different cities around the world, and in this sense, managing remote workers is hardly a major leap in management practices. The same skills and methods which allow for the successful management of geographically disparate teams are largely transferable to managing remote workers. Yet as this trend keeps on growing, project and resource managers will need to follow best practice when it comes to managing these far-flung resources.
As the guidance outlined above pushes home, it’s absolutely essential to provide clear expectations and boundaries to remote workers. Technology not only plays a role in facilitating remote working, it can also offer a means of managing remote workers too, by providing those boundaries and expectations. Tempus Resource from ProSymmetry is a cutting edge resource management platform which provides an ideal means of managing your people, defining their tasks and discovering the best possible use of their time. With an easy to use interface, it connects with all popular PPM tools and gives you the ability to build models of your resources’ tasks and activities to discover the best possible use of their time.
With colleagues out of sight and working on a range of different projects at once, it’s also crucial to gather an overview of where they are and what they’re doing. When your people are physically in the office, monitoring their activities is easy. By contrast, staying up to date with progress when colleagues are based around the country is a much harder task. Tempus Resource again provides a unique and effective solution. Resource managers are able to monitor the tasks and activities an individual resource is working on, discover how close to working capacity they currently are and use the platform’s optimization tool to find even better uses for their peoples’ time.
Remote workers are often happier, more productive and more focused. Avoiding the stress and strain (and costs) of commuting is a boon, and the benefits for business are far from negligible. While remote working has its drawbacks, a clearly defined organisational policy can do a lot to alleviate confusion around individual tasks and responsibilities, and resource management tools can help managers get the best out of their working-from-home colleagues.
Contact us today to find out more about what Tempus Resource can do for your distance workers.