A recent study by TINYPulse found that remote workers are happier than those commuting daily to an office.  But while working remotely can bring benefits, it can be an extremely frustrating experience if you spend a significant portion of your day fighting against technology.  If you have employees that work remotely, here are three ways that you can make them happier and more productive.

man working remotely on laptop at kitchen table


Provide Simple, Effective, Secure Remote Access to Your Internal Network

At most companies, it’s hard for an employee to go through an entire day without needing access to a file or piece of software located on a computer inside the company network.  If accessing these files is slow or complicated, employees are much more likely to put off tasks until they’re back in the office.  If they do choose to access the internal network, it will disrupt their workflow.

There are a number of secure ways to allow internal access to remote computers, including Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and third-party applications such as LogMeIn or TeamViewer.  Whatever method you use, make sure that access is configured on laptops if those employees might one day work remotely, and that employees are familiar with it before they anticipate working remotely for the first time.


Consider a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy for Cellphones

We’ve discussed BYOD policies before, but they really do improve the lives of employees who need access to phone calls or emails while they’re not at the office.  Carrying two phones is a hassle, even before you consider the challenge of keeping them both charged throughout the day.  At the same time, people are reluctant to toss their personal cell phone in a drawer and replace it with a company phone, especially if the company phone is on the ‘other team’ (Android vs. Apple).  Uniting work and personal information on personal phones also eliminates the requirement to pay for expensive phones for all of your workers.

But it’s certainly not a panacea.   Personal phones may not have the security you would install by default on business phones.  If personal phones are used to transfer files between home and work computers, it’s possible they could introduce malware into the office.  Your technical support staff will have to provide some level of support to everyone’s phone, regardless of brand or operating system.  If you’re considering a BYOD policy, or already have one implemented, but don’t already have a security policy in place, talk with your IT provider about how to keep your internal network safe.


Use Software Tools to Improve Communication

The one area where remote workers were less satisfied than office workers was unsurprisingly communication.  Communication is simply not going to be as easy when working from home as it is when you can stop by your boss’s (or employee’s) office and ask a quick question.

Of course, you don’t want to introduce constant interruptions to a remote worker’s day – limiting those types of interruptions are a big part of what makes them feel happier and more productive.  But some tools can be employed to improve communication.

Face-to-face meeting tools:  while every meeting doesn’t require a camera, important meetings can benefit from them.  Much of communication is non-verbal, and all of that gets lost on a conference call.  You can rely on something as simple as Skype, or employ a more sophisticated meeting tool like Zoom to get your team on the same page.

Messaging tools: for quick questions that need quick answers, nothing beats a messaging service.  Some companies use consumer-focused tools like Trillian, while others use secure tools like Yammer or Slack.

Performance-tracking tools:  Without the benefit of daily interaction, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the really important projects from the tasks that float into the inbox.  For this reason, it’s important to have a strong system of performance-tracking for remote employees, where employees receive a clear indication of their most important projects, and are provided feedback on their performance on those projects.  Unfortunately, there’s no one piece of software that can accomplish this goal – but companies that get it right are much more likely to see great performance and long-term employees.