Remote work is already a haven for employees and freelancers. As a manager, you’ll also see the flexibility of working from home and outsourcing their business to anywhere from one to a large group of remote workers.
So, when you have a remote team of workers, you must manage them in ways that make production consistent and effective, without being afflicted with missed deadlines and miscommunication. Here’s our guide to manage remote workers, with seven ways to effectively manage your remote workforce, with the tools to manage remote employees, so that your business can still thrive on these terms.
“Working remotely doesn’t mean that there can’t be any company culture,” says Joseph Rouse, an HR at Paperfellows and Australianhelp. “Your workplace culture should have values, at the very least. Having company pride in how you do business and how you communicate allow you to have a good experience with your remote workers. And with that said, your workers should value those same values, and stay in touch with their community as often as possible.”
Of course, when remote team members are working across time zones, employees feel isolated easily, and company culture becomes a difficult thing to encourage. But with regular team meetings via video conferencing, you’ll find you can easily build trust and employee engagement with your remote workforce.
To get production going, your workers need the right tools to do the work: access to files, tasks, information, etc. So, make sure that they have access, and that they’re up to date on news, updates, and deadlines, so that they can all get work done at a decent pace.
You will need to make sure your employees have access to all the software needed to do their work—word processing software, team scheduling and productivity software, and conference call software, especially important for making remote workers feel part of the rest of the team. If this software is free, you mainly only need to provide a download and installation guide for your remote team members. But if the software has a paid license or needs a company login, be aware that your remote workforce may find it more difficult to set this up than people working in-house, especially if they cannot easily get in contact with the IT department, or do not have access to the company IP address and portal.
One of the best tools to manage remote employees, for managing remote workers training or otherwise, there are other ways to communicate with your workers, rather than just texting them. Communication via video chat is a fantastic way to break out of the monotony of standard team meetings, and helps people working from home feel like they are part of the rest of the team during team meetings.
If you are sure to schedule your conference call well in advance, paying attention to your remote workforce’s varying time zones, chat services like Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom allow you to communicate with your workforce whenever you’d like. And if connectivity should fail, you ought to fix it right away. Or if your employees experience downtime, see if you can help cover the cost for better Internet or more bandwidth for them, or work with them to see where they can take calls without any issues.
It’s imperative to communicate clearly with your employees. Do not leave a thing to chance. Enquire and query with your employees to get the discussion going. Also, allow your workers to ask you their requests and queries of their own.
In addition, make sure that you’re stating your expectations to them as clearly as possible. Have goals and timelines that you want to see get accomplished, and hold people accountable for the work that they’re doing.
As above, accountability and measuring productivity are easier when you have the tools and software in place to aid them. But you should agree with your employees whether they are getting paid by the hour, for example, or another way of measuring it. And you should check in with your remote workforce now and then, especially in the middle of a larger project, to see how things are coming along, what stage your employees are at, and see if this corroborates with the goal. This communication will help build trust.
This is something found in any managing remote employees book. One of the most important tools to manage remote employees, as you allow more communication into the workflow, when you manage remote workers, make sure you have time to have one-on-ones with anyone who needs it. You can update your availability for your “open-door policy” on services like Skype, Slack, etc., so that your employees will know when you’re available and when you’re not.
And, when you do have one-on-one time with your employees, give them a full hour every week to discuss anything that needs to be discussed. Here are some good questions to ask, when doing these one-on-ones:
What’s your favorite part about working remotely?
How would you describe your daily routine for when you work?
Do you believe that you are making a difference in our team? Why do you or don’t you believe this?
Are the tools that you use functioning effectively for you? If not, how can our software and equipment be improved?
You visit the office a certain number of times a year. Is the visit amount extortionate, inadequate, or perfect?
How can I better support you on this remote venture?
“When it comes to how to manage remote employees successfully, a lot of companies take them for granted,” says Xavier Samuels, a project manager at Bigassignments and Boomessays. But one of his best tips for managing remote workers is, “In fact, it can be hard to keep remote workers, if you work them too hard, or don’t express your appreciation for them. So, if you’re lucky enough to find remote workers who do their job well all the time, then it’s fair to treat them with respect and pay them fairly for their work. Like regular employees, remote workers appreciate the positive feedback.”
Throughout the contract, if you communicate effectively with people working remotely, like using instant messaging for shorter, more casual messages, and respect your remote employees’ time zones when you do, but stick to sending longer messages and briefs through email, people working remotely will look forward to working with you in the future.
What is there to dislike about a face to face team meeting every once in a while?
Whether you host a luncheon or a managing remote employees seminar, it’s fun to see your workers in person rather than through video conferencing, and connect with them on a social level. Employees feel more connected. As you have these social outings annually (if not a few times a year), you can all talk about the company or team’s future together. When it comes to how to manage remote employees successfully, this is imperative. It will build employee engagement and trust among all team members, not just the group who works from home.
By following these simple steps, you’ll create a remote team that not only works with you, but is also appreciative of what you have to offer them.
Molly Crockett is a marketing and business expert for Ukwritings and Essayroo. She gives managers tips on how to better optimize their business practices. She’s also a writing teacher at Academized, where she teaches young people how to develop their writing and research skills.