Since about 2010 we've been seeing articles about the increasing trend of mobile workforces and remote workers. More and more companies are offering remote work days. Some are moving towards hiring more contractors who work entirely from home, sometimes even from the other side of the country. Then we also have a fading away from restrictions on sick days or personal time.
All of this relies on the idea that your employees are adults who get their work done and can handle their business.
We're no longer seeing a new trend or expecting mobile workforces to become popular. It's here.
Sure, it's still increasing across industries as new generations of workers are coming in expecting some sort of flexibility. But we're here.
Keeping Up with Gen Z
Both Millennial and Gen Z workers want maximum convenience and minimal physical restriction around scheduling and attendance protocols. This isn't about ditching out on work. Rather, it's an expectation they're valued as human beings.
You may not be prepared or find it necessary to commit to completely remote teams. Entirely mobile workforces aren't even functional in every industry. However, there are things you can do to adapt to this new style of workplace. As you do, you'll open your business to attract new generations of talent and reap the benefits of flexibility.
Start off Small
Maybe you offer one or two days a week in which employees can work remotely. You can include the caveat they can be required to come in when it's necessary. But, overall, make remote days part of the flow of your company.
Maybe you offer coworking space memberships for your full-time remote workers. This gives you the ability to hire from a larger talent pool beyond whats commutable to your office. You may even consider this option for long-term contractors as an added incentive.
Set Up for Success
A necessity for adapting successfully to a mobile workforce is ensuring all company files, communications and functions can be accessed online.
You'll also need to set policies catering to the flexibility needed to promote autonomy while keeping accountability. This has a lot to do with the expectations you set as an employer.
Skirting the Challenges of Remote Workers
One of the biggest concerns managers have when working with mobile workforces is accountability. You don't want to create a surveillance state in which you're breathing down their back. That kind of management is counter-intuitive to the positives of remote working and chips away at morale and productivity.
Having clear expectations and an open line of communication can usually prevent accountability and productivity issues. However, you don't have to go the route of assuming the work will get done, fingers crossed.
Instead, establish check-ins. For major projects be sure to set smaller deadlines in order to help your workers keep on track. For daily work, perhaps set up mid-day reviews. There is nothing wrong with having your employees check-in and keep you informed of where they're at in their work.
Just do what makes sense for your business and the work-place culture you're looking to foster.