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How to Manage Remote Employees

How to Manage Remote Employees

Handling remote staff involves a mindset shift, especially for managers who are used to working in traditional settings. Business owners who are accustomed to measuring productivity based on employees' “office time” and apparent activity levels may find the change to remote work unfamiliar and inconvenient at first. Workers may also feel out of sorts at first as they adjust to big changes in their daily routines; this is acceptable. After all, while everyone appears to understand what remote work entails, not everybody has had the opportunity to do it. Working remotely has both advantages and disadvantages. Below are tips on how to manage remote employees.

What is the best way to lead your remote team?

Managers may find that they need to lighten their restraints a little while still holding staff accountable, to lead their remote team successfully.

effective virtual work pivots, whether scheduled weeks ahead of time or responding to a natural disaster or a worldwide crisis, need managers' willingness to rethink how they lead their teams.

They should also learn about remote-working best practices and anticipate some different techniques.

Recognize Basic Remote Work Issues.

When it comes to managing a remote crew, managers and business owners typically face three major obstacles.

Face time with colleagues and superiors is limited.

Face-to-face engagement is essential in our daily interactions since humans are social beings. This includes our interactions at work. As previously stated, supervisors frequently use workplace interactions to measure productivity and devotion. In collaborative work areas, it's also easy to keep track of emotions and handle developing issues ahead of time.

Meanwhile, individuals scan their faces and body postures instinctively to pick up reactions to what we say and do. Employees are therefore trained to pick up on cues from their superiors and peers in the course of their daily encounters. This is true for both constructive criticism and kind reassurance.

The lack of face-to-face contact can be felt very strongly by remote team members, especially during moments of hardship or transition.

 

Limitations and disruptions in communicating.

We can't peer over the cubicle or in the hallway to check whether a coworker or manager is available to address a small concern when we're working remotely. Digital messages like email or texts might sometimes go undetected, despite their convenience. Furthermore, a backlog of ignored communications can stymie work and irritate coworkers.

Simultaneously, the depth and complexity inherent in personal contacts might be lost in teleworkers' rapid digital responses. In emails, people who are normally kind and friendly may come out as harsh and disrespectful. Management may aid in the resolution of these problems by demonstrating excellent communication tactics.

 

Interruptions in the environment

Interruptions seem to occur with the nature of remote work, whether that's a cafe customer dropping sugar on a remote worker or a rambunctious baby shouting from the other room during a phone conference.

 

Establish specific productivity expectations for remote workers.

Some efficiency criteria will be job-specific, while others may be company-wide. An organization-wide policy may be to respond to all customer emails before the end of the day, or to make everyone accessible for meetings and phone calls during a certain time span.

Individual guidelines must be examined and documented, even if it is just casually. For instance, you and your remote team may specify that each programmer appointed to a project must submit code ready to test in 5 business days, with 48 hours warning if a target will not be fulfilled.

Meanwhile, a contact center staffer might have to handle 10 customer calls each hour while keeping an eye on the side for screaming babies. A recruiter may need to do 20 phone interviews a month in order to fill five vacancies.

Whereas some supervisors may consider documenting performance benchmarks to be a waste of time, it may help you discover trends that require attention.

For example, after watching a call center employee's performance for 90 days, you may uncover the need to expand customer support hours or find an efficiency slowdown.

 

Determine and supply the appropriate tools.

Making the required tools readily available as needed is a crucial component of properly managing remote personnel. Team members may have to ponder what will be introduced to make a telecommuting transition easier in order to satisfy that demand.

Remote workers require the same accessibility as in-office employees to resources like:

  • Rules and procedures handbook
  • Forms and materials for presentations
  • Stationary and mailing equipment
  • Applications for computers
  • Credit card for company purchases

 

Technology for Telecommuting

The majority of remote work can be done with only a computer, wifi, and a headset. Your organization's demands and security requirements should decide if digital technologies are offered through a share-point accessed over a secure VPN or via Dropbox folders.

You might wish to give a tiny printer based on the type of work being done. Alternatively, you may open an account with a local copy store or postal services center, both of which have clearly stated spending restrictions.

Determine if remote staff will be given business computers or will be allowed to use their own computers. When it comes to technology, applications, and where workers may access central servers, cybersecurity and data protection are obviously critical. You may also want to check bandwidth and internet connection dependability, as well as if the individual works from home or from a co-working environment. Small and big organizations alike can benefit from teleconferencing services.

Understand that both you and your remote staff may discover that some activities need to be completed in the office building for security concerns or even because meeting in person is more convenient.

 

Adapting teams to work away from the office

In an ideal world, new remote employees would be trained six months ahead of time on how to use important remote technologies and procedures. Even if a transition to telecommuting is expected to happen in a couple of weeks or days, a 4 or 24-hour trial run may disclose unforeseen flaws in an otherwise sound remote strategy.

Depending on the conditions, you may have the entire team or only one or two players participate. Perfection is aided by practice.

 

Reserved certain days and hours for your team.

Honesty and cooperation are fostered via casual workplace contacts.  It may require a bit more work for distant teams to replicate such interaction. Whenever there's a combination of in-office and remote personnel, smart managers look for ways to incorporate everybody in group activities and conversations when feasible.

Urge your telecommuting staff to communicate with you and other group members on a frequent basis, even if it seems unnatural or inconvenient at first. Obviously, what constitutes “frequent contact” varies depending on the employment and the duties that remote personnel must complete.

 

How can you encourage people to communicate and engage?

Email, instant messaging, and phone or video chats are absolutely necessary for distant collaboration. Workers should maintain their work schedules up to date on a unified platform or app wherever necessary. Throughout normal working hours, “away from desk” notices on programs and out-of-office email answers are also beneficial. These apparently little details assist to reduce the risks and hassles that come with those pesky communication impediments.

Establishing a predetermined period for team online conversations is beneficial for tracking progress and fostering openness. Leadership and project managers can review events and pinpoint obstacles by holding brief recap or staff briefings.

It's a good idea to review how to hold a productive meeting. Although there isn't much of a difference between online and in-person conferences, it's typically a good idea to:

  • Have a well-defined objective.
  • At the start of major meetings, do a roll call so everybody knows who is there.
  • Remind everybody to use the mute button when they aren't talking.

 

Check-ins with remote workers on a frequent basis.

There's not a one-size-fits-all answer to how routinely a manager should communicate with remote employees.

The most productive one-on-one conversations, on the other hand, aren't merely for tracking performance. They may also be an effective way to keep remote workers interested and motivated.  Regular one-on-one meetings, regardless of whether they're daily, monthly, or bimonthly, can assist management in the following ways:

  • Check to see if the individual is doing great in general.
  • Identify and reduce obstacles with the help of the employee.
  • Talk about the worker's personal & professional growth plans.
  • Respond to a series of questions on the staff's background.

Regular communication may be necessary based on the employee and the kind of their employment. One employee, for example, could only need a call weekly, but another employee would need daily calls.

Managers should be adaptive to employee requirements and schedules as much as their time permits.

 

Make a video or document with advice from other remote workers.

Employees who have already walked the remote path might have tips to provide, such as which applications are most useful or how to set up a home workplace.

PDFs, short movies, or casual question-and-answer video sessions may all be used to disseminate these ideas.

Other helpful hints for working remotely include:

  • How to deal with the ebb and flow of everyday life
  • Favorite delivery restaurants in the area
  • Working from home and keeping a work-life balance
  • How might healthy habits be incorporated?
  • Suggestions on time management 
  • Personal ways for remaining focused and on task

 

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