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Effectively Managing Remote Employees

Published June 09, 2020 (last updated June 21, 2022) -
employees working remotely

The age of digital technology is shifting the concept of in-office work to remote, at home employment.

If you’re a business currently dealing with employees working from home, it’s crucial to understand how to manage them effectively.
Although there is a wide range of opinions, some studies have found that remote working not only reduces commuting time, but it also enhances productivity, staff retention, job satisfaction and even creativity.

With remote teams working from home, how do you handle productivity to make it streamlined, and what is the best practice? Read on for some insight and tips that can help you manage your remote workers more effectively.

The Challenges of Managing Remote Employees

If you’re working with remote team members, time management and productivity can often present some challenges. Workers in different time zones may have a tough time keeping up with communication or dealing with customers in a timely fashion.

There will be increased factors that make managing remote teams an even greater challenge for managers now that we are all adjusting to the new normal of work from home (WFH) due to COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantine.

Many remote workers feel disconnected since they don’t have any face-to-face interaction with management and co-workers. Communication seems to be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to managing your employees working remotely from home.

Aside from keeping up with communication, another challenge is managing productivity so your remote team members stay on track. The lack of oversight and in-person management can make it tempting for some employees to get distracted or off-track. This could make meeting goals or achieving your company mission more difficult without the proper tools in place.

Promote Positive Morale and Company Culture

Those who work from home can also miss out on the company culture that makes your business so unique. It’s crucial to be able to cultivate the culture in new ways so that every person who works for your business continues to feel as if they’re a strong and essential part of the team.

Other common challenges may include difficulty building or sustaining morale among workers and keeping the trust between management and employees intact. With the lack of true, physical interaction, these are real challenges that may be overcome with the right techniques and tactics.

How to Manage Remote Workers

If you’re transitioning over to a remote team, there are some things you can do to keep your business running smoothly. One effective way to manage workers is through regular video conferencing. This “virtual meeting” can help you get a feel for how your employees are doing and it makes the open lines of communication more real.

As a manager, having excellent communication skills are crucial. Since there’s no face to face interaction with employees working from home, regular check-ins should be part of your business protocol.

You’ll need to ensure that everyone is taking extra effort to stay on task and to maintain constant contact and communication. Without the effort of everyone on your team, you could be missing some issues that aren’t initially clear until they’re brought to light later.

Make Virtual Meetings Part of a Regular Routine

Hold regular check-ins with your employees to see how things are going. Team meetings should also be held and adhered to according to a specific schedule. The meetings can make a huge difference in understanding how the team works and what changes need to be made.

If possible, try to hold some face to face meetings every so often to put your finger on the pulse of company and employee morale. Try to foster personal connections with your employees so they feel valued, and so their opinions hold value as well.

The most effective way to manage remote employees is to be available and responsive to their concerns. Even though you don’t have to answer every text, electronic message, or email immediately, make sure your response time is reasonable. Your feedback should be thorough and should answer specific questions in a thorough way that helps the team move forward.

Strategies and Tools for Managing Remote Workers

The spike of employees working remotely since the Covid-19 pandemic has sparked an uptake of technology to help smooth the transition to remote work. Use this technology along with specific strategies to keep your team involved and on task. It’s important to build trust using these tools so everyone is excited and encouraged to participate.

Here are some popular and helpful tools you can use along with strategies that will ensure these tools are serving your best interest:

  • Slack: This real-time chat tool is perfect for constant employee engagement. Use it daily to give your remote workers a place to ask questions, say hello, and to be aware of any important announcements.
  • Zoom and other Video Apps: Video apps like Zoom and Google Hangouts will keep your face to face meetings on track. These apps are great for conference calls, pre-organized meetings, and any time you want to check-in with your remote workers on a more intimate scale.
  • Trello and Asana: A good company needs a proper project management system, and these tools help you easily collaborate between employees. The board-style software lets you manage projects, assign them to team members and check on the status in real-time.
  • Screen Sharing: Using a screen-sharing tool makes it much easier to train employees or explain processes. This software can be standalone or may be integrated with other programs.

Helpful Strategies

With help from these tools, you can implement some effective remote management strategies:

  • Train all employees on how they can work from home in an effective way whether it’s an e-learning course, a video, or a document explaining processes and procedures.
  • Use your video call tools as often as possible so you get a better connection with your remote team.
  • Host a hands-on company event every so often if possible so workers have a real relationship with management and their fellow team members.
  • Hold Q&A sessions with your management team that’s centred solely around remote workers so everyone is on the same page.
  • Draft a clear, concise remote work policy that establishes guidelines and expectations for all remote workers. A mixture of regular check-ins, virtual team building, and obtaining feedback can be the most effective strategies to ensure success.

Free Working From Home Pack for Employers

Employsure has bundled together several FREE resources to assist employers who have employees working from home.

How to Manage Direct Remote Reports

An effective manager knows that communication is the foundation for achieving increased productivity and positive morale. To manage those who work from home, you’ll need to create a building block of trust, communication, and accountability.

Make sure that everyone who works for you is centred around a common goal. Without this basic building block, you can easily lose control or lose track of which members of your team are engaged and which ones aren’t.

Make the Transition with Care

Even if you use technology-based tools and put crucial strategies in place, it’s also important to avoid micromanaging your team members. Too much involvement and prodding can lead to feelings of mistrust or anger from your remote workers. Use the right training and set clear policies into motion as soon as you build a remote team, and everything will fall into place.

Finally, it’s important to set clear expectations upfront. This way, employees understand that they’re being held to the same high standard as other workers and that there are specific things you expect to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Success Via Remote Work is Possible

For many businesses, employees working from home is a new concept that may need some tweaking until it’s perfected. For others, it’s a matter of integrating tools and strategies that ensure better productivity and success for the future.

In summary, keeping your remote workforce united, successful & productive mainly involves trusting your staff to do their job and communicating in a clear and concise manner on a regular basis to ensure priorities and expectations are set and met, and your culture is maintained.

If you’d like to take the complexity out of workplace relations, visit our website or contact us to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are Some Tips for Managing Remote Employees?

    When it comes to managing remote employees, the most effective tool is communication. To keep remote workers on-task, arrange video conferencing and in-person meetings as much as possible.

    Ensure that you communicate in a clear and concise manner. Do not assume that your team understands what you are saying and that you are all on the same page. It’s important to set out clear and concise expectations. It’s equally important to revisit these expectations on a regular basis (i.e. every morning during your team catchup).

    Be available to your workers so they know you have an open-door policy if there are ever concerns. Reward those who stay on task and help your business grow and flourish.

  • What Are the Best Online Collaboration Tools for Remote Workers?

    This is not the opinion of Employsure. Businesses should take care to ascertain what software project suits their particular circumstances. Here are some examples of products that you can use:

    • Slack
    • Zoom
    • Asana
    • Google Hangouts
    • Trello
    • Dropbox
    • Google Drive
    • Basecamp
  • How Do I Make My Employees Feel Connected?

    • Start by training remote employees and make expectations clear
    • Host virtual meetings and video calls for more intimate connection
    • Be available to answer questions and address concerns
    • Find out what your employees need, then do your best to meet those needs as quickly as possible
    • Most importantly, trust your staff
  • How Do You Motivate Remote Employees?

    • Set goals and then celebrate / reward team members who meet them i.e. celebrate efforts and wins more publicly
    • Encourage fun, team building, and wellness. Try to have some in-person meals or other special events on occasion
    • Provide positive feedback whenever a remote worker does a great job or accomplishes a milestone
  • What Are Some Habits and Practices That All Remote Managers Should Adopt?

    • Stay positive and lighthearted in all forms of communication
    • Be realistic in goals and expectations
    • Ask your employees for their opinions, then put their feedback into motion
    • Offer bonuses or other rewards for workers who excel
    • Respect your team’s time and work hours
    • Avoid anything that amplifies isolation

About Employsure.

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