Regardless of a company's work-from-home policy, Shanti Atkins, president and chief strategy officer of ethics and compliance firm Navex Global, says that the most successful organizations are those that focus on results. "If the workplace culture is performance based, that allows managers to focus on results vs. micro-managing employees' day-to-day activities, which obviously becomes even more difficult with remote workers," Shanti says. Shanti says a common problem is for remote workers to get less feedback and direction -- the "out of sight, out of mind" phenomenon. "Managers need to ensure they are providing the same amount of oversight and support to their remote teams -- perhaps even more, given that these folks don't get to benefit from the 'in-the-hallway' conversations," she says. When it comes to oversight, most managers will find that measuring results is the best way to supervise, says Linda Henman, author of Landing in the Executive Chair. The one and only way to evaluate employees is related to expectations, Henman says. If a company sets clear goals and metrics, it should be easy to assess who is working and who isn't.
"If a person can accomplish all their work by noon and someone else can't do it in eight hours, who ends up being the better employee?" she asks. "Too many companies concern themselves with activities instead of results. If you keep results top of mind and evaluate according to them, the rest will take care of itself."
"Clear milestones for work production throughout the business day will prevent down time," she says. "These milestones should require review with discussion of the tangible output with the team leader." Business owners must understand the end product they desire from their remote employees so that they can measure quality of output, not simply quantity of time spent, Benjamin says. "If the agreed work is challenging, yet the milestones are clearly articulated and agreed upon, then the remote worker should be able to meet the desired work quality and expectations," she says. Once expectations and milestones are agreed upon, says Diane Rodgers, senior human resources operations manager at CBIZ Human Capital Services, the employer has to accept that there will be some time spent on nonwork-related tasks. "If the performance, productivity and customer satisfaction expectations are being met, does the employer care if the employee works in a load of laundry in between? It's not always apparent, even when employees are working in the office, whether they are constantly working productively.They may be intently staring at their computer screen, but what's on the computer may not be work-related," Rodgers says. "There is no fool-proof way to know whether an employee is always thinking about work every hour of the workday, regardless of where they are working."