smb-tech-trendsTalk around the water cooler these days just might be about flexible working. That’s because your small business employees would rather be working remotely,  if they are like the majority of workers, according to a recent survey.

The survey from Kona, the social collaboration platform from Deltek, indicates that 70 percent of workers would rather work from home than come into the office. The figures go even higher – 81 percent – for workers between the ages of 35 to 44; while only 66 percent of respondents between 18 and 24 want to work remotely.  In addition, 70 percent of parents would rather work from home.

In fact, the desire for flexible working may be the cause of some jealousy among in-office workers.  The study found that 57 percent of employees who come into the office are jealous of colleagues who work from home. The figure increases to 65 percent for workers who are over 65 and as much as 75 percent for those who earn over $100,000 per year.

The survey also underscores the need for small businesses with a flexible or “smarter working” policy to provide the technology tools, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops and headsets for making calls, as well as video conferencing and cloud-based document sharing,  to enable team members to be productive and stay connected.  The Kona survey showed that while 54 percent of respondents consider email the most effective way to communicate within a group; 20 percent still use paper and pen to keep track of group activities and 22 percent keep everything ‘in their head.’

Tips to manage your flexible working team

Even with the right technology tools, flexible working can make it challenging to preserve your small business culture and foster collaboration between remote workers and those who come into the office every day. To make a flexible work environment successful, you need to:

  • Establish clear goals and expectations: Work with your team to establish goals for all departments. The goals should be quantifiable and not simply be to get the job done. You may want to set a series of milestones that need to be reached along the way with deadlines for each. Also clarify everyone’s roles and responsibilities so there is no uncertainly about who does what.
  • Communicate often: Communication is always important, but even more so when your team is decentralized. Share information about progress or problems related to a particular project or program with everyone who is involved.
  • video callMake meetings matter: Whether you use audio or video conferencing for regularly scheduled or ad hoc meetings, make the meetings meaningful. Have an agenda and establish objectives before getting together.
  • Set times to socialize: At times get everyone together – unless they are too remote to participate. Have a social function in or out of the office so that team members can make more personal connections. Use the events to foster your company culture and values.

Do you manage a flexible workforce? What do you find is your greatest challenge?

Help us get out the vote for 2013 Small Business Influencer Award

Vote-2013-125x125-red - Copy-4It’s an honor to be among the nominees for the 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards. Voting is underway and continues until September 9. You can vote daily until then.  We appreciate your vote!