12 Ways To Manage Remote Employees
Your tried and tested remote hiring strategy might nourish your workforce with a staff of excellent remote employees, but they’ll only drain resources, disrupt team workflows, and increase costs, unless correctly managed.
Companies that have remote employees for years expect each one of them to manage themselves — that’s the beauty of it; a dedicated manager might not be needed to keep tabs on them. Having said that, every remote worker has their own version of what’s right and acceptable; it is what it is — you can’t change that.
But what you can do is take certain steps to ensure that each one of them contributes equally, collaborates, and is dedicated to achieving the company’s goals. To go about doing that, here are 12 ways to effectively manage remote workers.
- Lay the ground rules
Establish what you expect from your remote worker in advance, be it in terms of communication, tasks and so on. If they don’t seem to follow, you can place them under the tutelage of another experienced remote worker who can guide the rookies until they come of age.
Doing this will ensure that they quickly pick up on what’s expected of them and perform their duties without facing any challenges.
- Think of them as your own
Do not, at any cost alienate your remote workers. As you would with your in-house employees, interact with them on a regular basis, offering them the freedom to approach you free to discuss any problems they might be facing.
Distance strains relationships so avoid it all costs when it comes to your remote workers. In fact, you can reach out to them first which will serve as the perfect icebreaker.
- Maintain constant communication
Workers need to be engaged and they must feel that their opinions are heard by all. An inclusive workplace breeds productivity. Find a way to communicate with them regularly via video calls, phone calls etc. Check-in on them regularly and ask if they’re facing any issues settling-in.
In fact, you can plan and schedule weekly or monthly meetings and include them in any important agendas. This way, remote employees will feel valued.
- Improve team interaction
Again, it’s not just the higher-ups who need to communicate with the remote workers. Everyone needs to take the initiative to talk to the new hire. Although encouraging team interaction is something that should come naturally, don’t shelf it thinking that they can take care of it on their own.
Send mails to all employees working in teams to plan video conferences with team members regularly, no matter where they are. This step will improve collaboration, productivity and eliminate awkwardness.
- (Don’t) breathe down their necks
When you offer the flexibility to work remotely, you’re essentially trusting employees to take their responsibilities seriously without you having to monitor them.
Trust is key when it comes to telecommuting. Employees don’t feel comfortable when the employer enforces constant vigil. Of course, you can routinely check in on them via communication channels and ask for status reports, but you must trust them to do their jobs.
Once you trust them, they basically trust you back and perform their duties.
- None below, none higher
Again, remote employees should be considered at par with other employees to foster workplace equality. Keep communication lines open, encourage others working with remote employees to collaborate to the best of their abilities, and do not tolerate inequality of any kind.
Senior leadership must take it upon themselves to kickstart this effort, assigning resources needed for communication and collaboration between on and off-site employees.
- Alignment and focusing on what matters
If communication breaks down between the employer and remote employees, the latter might steer off the path founded on the company’s core values and mission.
As the employer, you must align them with the values, mission, and vision. As such, be receptive to their feedback which might ask for the values and mission to be flexible or changed. Doing this will boost productivity and motivation.
- Equipped for perfection
Since your employees will be working remotely, you need to understand that all office amenities will not be available to them. They need the right tools and equipment to perform their duties, as they would if they were in office.
It’s up to you, as the employer to provide items that they can use to get work done. If not all, you can provide basic items need for productive work. For instance, you can ensure that the employee is given access to tools/software/apps which are routinely updated.
If the employee doesn’t have internet, you can reimburse the costs of the internet which the employee pays on his/her own.
- Be flexible about shifts
Every objective has a set deadline which must be kept. As the employer, you understand this and so does the employee. So, as long as the quality of work is not hampered, the deadlines are being met, you have no reason to be strict about what time the remote employee punches in and out.
Be flexible about their working hours. As they’re working remotely, you need to identify at which point during the day/night, they’re most productive.
Again, it’s all about trust — you have already offered the employees to work remotely which shows trust on your side. So, being flexible in terms of work timings shouldn’t be an issue as long as you trust them to be productive whenever they buckle down and achieve targets.
- Set (achievable) targets
Setting goals for your employees is an effective way of keeping tabs on the work they do. As such, you must define and communicate short and long-term goals to them.
This way, you are building a to-do list for the telecommuting employees. It saves them the time of having to come up with a plan. Moreover, you can ask them to communicate with you whenever a certain objective is achieved.
Let them know to send status reports of what has been achieved and what comes next (and when) at the end of each day. This way you get a clear understanding of your employees’ pace, and also get to know if they have run into any stumbling blocks that require your assistance.
- Leverage tech to engage
Employees are no different from family members. Dialogue has to be maintained and so should the community, as the family has new additions time and gain.
Remote employees should feel included and cared for. In this regard, you must use technology to encourage communication and connection between all members. Give a remote worker a shout-out on your platforms for achieving a milestone. Or send an e-card from the company on his/her birthday.
By developing an engaged remote workforce, you can definitely increase productivity.
- Advocate empathy
Remote workers, like the rest of your employees, face the same trials and tribulations life throws at them. At such times, you should empathize and offer your support.
Check-in on them regularly and show that you and the rest of the employees care, in sickness, health, failure, success, grief, or whatever might befall them. Knowing this, they will feel valued and also it also reflects the community support that your organisation is renowned for.
Remote hiring is now increasingly popular amongst businesses, big or small. It’s all about escaping the comfort zone. Employers now understand this more than ever as more have started exploring talent pools beyond the peripheries instituted by traditional hiring models.
Thinking if you should opt for remote hiring? Here’s an article that explores the benefits of a remote workforce, including a foolproof hiring strategy to get you started on the right foot.
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