This article was updated on Oct. 23, 2018.
Working remotely offers benefits to a business and its employees, such as flexibility and potential cost savings. However, businesses can face operational challenges when offering this type of employment. The following are some key factors small business owners should keep in mind to overcome these challenges and reap the benefits of this flexible arrangement.
Face-to-Face Time and Meeting Coordination
Lack of face-to-face communication is a common challenge business owners encounter when employing remote workers. Thirty percent of CIOs in a Robert Half® Technology survey cited communication or lack of face time as their top challenge when managing a remote workforce. Face-to-face time presents an opportunity to ensure remote workers are in tune with your company culture and continue making strides toward your company goals. If resources allow, it's beneficial to conduct periodic in-person meetings. When in-person communication isn't feasible, virtual face-to-face time may be the next best option for employees working remotely to stay connected.
Coordinating virtual meetings with employees in different time zones, or even in multiple physical locations within the same area, can be challenging to manage. Fortunately, there are a number of scheduling and task management services small and middle market business leaders can choose from to help them overcome this problem. Tools like video conferencing, chat and file sharing services enable businesses to collaborate and communicate more effectively. They also give remote workers the opportunity to join forces and receive or submit feedback, which can, in turn, make them feel like a true part of the team.
Do Your Homework
It's necessary to exercise due diligence when looking to hire remote employees. Communicate work standards, like policies on employee availability or core work hours, during the beginning of the interview process. This is also an opportunity to ensure mutual understanding about the remote work environment that's conducive with your business goals. Prepare to relay proper IT security practices and measures when working remotely, such as installing regular security patches, following password management guidelines or requiring the use of a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure safe data access.
Remember that different states have different laws small business owners may be subject to when offering employment. For instance, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, "employer contributions to HSAs [health savings accounts] are tax-free (not taxable compensation) for federal income tax purposes, but taxable for California income tax purposes." It's important, therefore, to know what tax rules to abide by when you have employees working in different states.
By keeping these factors in mind, small and middle market business owners can more easily handle operational obstacles they may face when employing a remote workforce.
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