Over the past 22 years in business I've tried all methods of operating a business with staff; first in my home office then in various offices and finally in my employees’ homes.

Primarily my company offers Mystery Shopping and the majority of my 60-plus employees are remote, scattered around Australia and New Zealand. Technology, particularly the Cloud, allows this to happen with ease and it is very cost effective.

We also have 4 employees in Administration and after years having an office at various locations they all now work from home. They love the flexibility as their roles have been moulded around their personal changing needs.

My company is a 7-days-a-week operation with mystery shoppers submitting their reports around the clock, so having the flexibility of different people working at different hours has improved our commitment to our clients.

When to consider using remote staff

  1. You’re losing excellent employees due to their changing needs and you’re not offering flexibility;
  2. There isn’t enough space for you all in your home office’
  3. You’re paying rent on an office, plus all the sundries that go with it.

The number 1 question before using out-of-office staff

Before looking at remote staff for your business you need to take a moment of reflection:

  • Are you trusting? You have to trust your staff to work hard.

10 tips to make remote staffing effective

  1. Make sure all roles have detailed job descriptions.
  2. Understand whether your business needs casual, permanent, part-time or full-time staff.
  3. Explain you expectations of work standards and the importance of deadlines, responsibility and accountability
  4. Consider resources such as phone, computer, printer and stationery. Will you pay for all of these or a percentage? Should your staff pay up front and claim back from you?
  5. Decide how you’ll manage training—frequency, location, duration etc.
  6. Set schedules for how you’ll meet initially and how you’ll catch up at regular intervals.
  7. If you have multiple remote staff, consider how they’ll interact with each other (if they need to) and do you need team leaders or junior managers so you don’t need to be copied into every email.
  8. Check your business insurance and their home insurance to ensure they are covered in their home while they are working for you.
  9. Choose staff who are trustworthy, self-disciplined, enjoy working alone and work to deadlines.
  10. Have honest conversations with each other over the telephone if you don’t get to see each other often. Use email to send documents and follow up to conversations.

Remote staff can work well as individuals producing excellent work while enjoying team interaction through emails, phone calls and occasional catch ups throughout the year. It’s crucial to employ trustworthy staff so you don’t feel the need to micromanage.