Tips for Companies with Remote Workers

Earlier this week I talked about some of the advantages and disadvantages of hiring remote workers for companies. Today I am going to discuss some tips, tools, and the like for owners or managers of companies with remote employees.

  • Read. I suggest this a lot. Read some blogs (like this one, this one, and/or this one) and have your remote employees read them too. They provide tips, advice, tools, and more about how to work either remotely or in general. Definitely some good advice and cool things are discussed there.
  • Use some sort of software. A lot of companies like software such as Basecamp (I prefer the completely free, self-hosted activeCollab, personally) to help manage projects. They use Skype, and other messengers to communicate and often have a company chatroom going. 37signals (who make Basecamp) uses their chat product, Campfire and says it really helps them communicate and get things done.
  • Get employees a computer. I think that it is a good idea to get your remote employees a computer that they can use exclusively for their remote work. Get a cheap one from Dell or HP and install monitoring software on it. Tell employees that the computer is only for work, must be returned if they leave the company, and that it has monitoring software on it that watches X, Y, and Z.

    Having a dedicated computer that watches for things like viruses, spyware, is pre-installed with necessary programs, and is all setup and ready to go is a good way to ensure employees are working most efficiently and not posing a risk to your company.

  • Upgrade their Internet. Before hiring a remote employee, have them do an Internet speed test and see what their Internet speed is. Ask them if their ISP has any faster options. If they do, pay for the upgrade. It will likely be worth it. Another good thing to do is to ensure your company has a dialup account or two that employees can use in case their Internet goes down. 
  • Buy them a phone and a headset. Depending on the setup of your IVR software, you may not have the ability for remote employees to pick up the phone. If they can, though, buy them a good phone and a headset they can use. Even if they can’t pick up the phone, it may be wise to buy them a cellphone they can use for calling customers, co-workers, etc.
  • Support employees. Be sure to provide customer service to your remote employees as well. Have a technical person that they can ask questions, someone they can communicate with if they have job related questions, etc. Have guides for using the software, telephone numbers they can call, and all of those things.

On the subject of remote workers, this is an interesting post about MyBlogLog, which is essentially a virtual company that has been sold to Yahoo. The founders met on LinkedIn and have worked mostly virtually since the company was founded.

Here is an interesting post about the 10 Best (and 10 Worst) Companies for Call Center Service. I will talk about it more this week.

I also came across this post from GetHuman last night. As I pointed out, there were very few A’s in their rankings. In fact, only 1.80% of the companies on their list received an A rating. Only 4.01% received a B. 84.37% got an F. Pretty bad, isn’t it?

Steve Jobs is doing the big keynote for Apple today. I wonder how the customer service will be in their stores after he announces the oh-so-expected iPhone and whatever else. I imagine the stores, the phone lines, and the web site will be awfully crowded, slow, and likely, frustrating. We’ll see!

One Response to “Tips for Companies with Remote Workers”

  1. Service Untitled » Remote Employees in Rapid Growth - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Feb 14, 07 at 7:46 am

    [...] I have talked about remote employees in the past. I constantly encourage companies to utilize remote employees and try to make them work. However, rapid growth companies often don’t have a choice, it is sometimes a nessecity to hire remote employees. [...]