More people are working remotely than ever before, and the number will continue to increase as more companies try to improve work-life balance.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) expects deskless employees to account for about 72 percent of the total American workforce by 2020.

“Telecommuting is rapidly becoming one of most attractive benefits a company can offer,” said Sean O’Brien, chief strategy officer at PGi.

It’s easy to see why flexible work options have steadily gained popularity among employers and employees in recent years. Companies with a mobile workforce can save money on office space and tech equipment while increasing their overall productivity. Meanwhile, remote workers can enjoy the freedom to work from anywhere they choose, reduce time and money spent on transportation, and find a greater sense of work-life balance.

Managing remote employees comes with a set of unique challenges, and overcoming them should be a top priority for many employers. Here are four big challenges employers should address.

As a manager, it’s your job to keep all your employees informed. While it’s simple to effectively communicate with staff members you see face-to-face, deskless employees must rely on technology, so you can’t let remote team members become “out of sight, out of mind.”

According to a study by Zogby Analytics, remote workers reported lack of information from management (38 percent) and the timeliness of the information (39 percent) as the biggest obstacles of working from home.

It’s also harder for remote employees to learn something such as a new procedure because they aren’t able to learn by watching in person. That’s why Gregory Galant, CEO and co-founder of Muck Rack, recommends documenting all procedures and writing down as much as you can.

“Many people think this is a sacrifice made to allow remote work, but documenting how things are done allows a company to scale faster even if it’s not remote,” Galant added.

The best way to communicate with remote employees is through technology. Some common apps remote workers use to communicate with co-workers are text messages, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google Hangouts, according to the Zogby Analytics survey.

In addition to having reliable communication solutions, it’s important to make sure that your workers know when and how to reach one another. Jonathan Erwin, CEO of mobile messaging platform Red e App, advised establishing core hours that all team members will be online and available, and commit to responding to each other within a set period. Collaboration tools such as shared storage and cloud-based project management software can also help a scattered team work together efficiently, Erwin said.

When you can’t physically see your employees every day, it can be difficult to track the amount of work they complete daily. While many telecommuters are motivated self-starters, some will take advantage of the fact that there’s no boss over their shoulder.

Galant suggests tracking a remote worker’s productivity the same as you would with the rest of your team, including employees who work in the office.

“With anyone, remote or not, it’s essential to establish metrics and goals,” he told Business News Daily. “Judge someone’s effectiveness by their output, not by how long they’re at their desk or how hard it looks like they’re working.”

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