Remote work has become a norm in the recent past. Today, due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation that has made social distancing and stay-at-home a harsh reality, businesses worldwide have asked their employees to continue work from home.
This situation has led to unique challenges of its own – one major challenge being how to manage remote employees.
There are several aspects to consider while remote managing your employees. You need to understand the difficulties your remote workers face. A few of the major areas you can look into are – effective communication, focus on productivity, and the use of remote work tools.
In this article, we will discuss the challenges the remote workers face and steps towards better managing your remote workers.
8 Tips For Managing Remote Employees
- Effective Communication Practices
- Tracking Productivity efficiently
- Set expectations from The Start
- Have workplace flexibility
- Listen to your employees
- Create connections with your remote workers
- Celebrate milestones and successes
- Provide the right collaboration Tools
Effective Communication Practices
Effective and regular communication the key to successful remote working teams and successful managers. Communicate often, with clarity and effectively to your entire team with clear expectations. At times, it is OK to over-communicate. But don’t overdo it.
Be available for a phone call or chat communication: Your employee may have a problem or may want to discuss something before moving ahead. Be available for it. Have multiple channels open during scheduled working hours.
Utilize multiple communication channels: Use emails, instant messengers, video chat & conferencing tools, and screen sharing tools to communicate effectively with your remote workers, ensure employee engagement, strengthen communication skills and maintain company culture.
Have scheduled virtual meetings with your team: Always make it a point to have regular meetings with your remote workers. This brings everyone on the same page and creates a group synergy. A video conference is a correct platform for announcing major upgrades and changes.
It is an effective measure of checking if your team is functioning optimally. At the end of the day, you need to obtain a certain level of throughput from your remote workers.
Track basic metrics of productivity: It is sensible to track the hours put in by every employee, remote attendance in meetings, and the present status of their assignments. It gives a clear picture of the team members’ individual performance and the team’s overall performance with the goal of increasing productivity.
Manage overlapping time zones effectively: If your remote team is spread over multiple time zones, identify the overlapping time zones, which are to be the most productive hours as this can be a critical factor. Manage these time periods effectively.
Review periodically: Periodically review the performance of every team leader and team member, evaluate the overall performance of the team while giving recognition when due. Compare the expected output with the obtained results and make any necessary changes.
Set expectations from The Start
The employee onboarding process is important and within that process, it is important to provide guidelines, set expectations, and boundaries. A manager or teammate should be there to answer questions that may arise and help the new employee in their role.
Have workplace flexibility
If you have remote workers you will want them to have flexibility in hours. If they are working on a project that does not require customer interaction then there should not be an issue if they prefer to work late at night or early in the morning.
Keep in mind that there should be consistency as well. If, for example, everyone is working as per their hours, most of them may not be available for team meetings or group discussions. This will help with work-life balance.
Listen to your remote employees
It’s important to maintain lines of communication. Ask for feedback from your employees and if possible implement some of their suggestions to alleviate any pain points they may be having.
Create connections with your Remote Workers
Working from home by yourself can get lonely for some people. Be available to employees for quick chats, and maintain an open-door policy. Get creative with video chats or group chat groups etc.
Celebrate milestones and successes
Create video recognition videos, celebrate birthdays, and work milestones that would normally be done in an office environment. There are even software tools for remote teams that help with this such as Bonusly, Wooboard, Fond, Assembly, and Kudos.
13 Remote Working Tools for Collaboration
Digital tools for remote teams are your biggest ally in distributed teams. There are a host of productivity tools that you can use to enhance your whole team’s output. Some of them are listed below:
Zoom: It is a video call and conferencing tool suited for remote staff. You can conduct webinars and conference calls through it. It has a multitude of options and is preferred by remote workers for weekly meetings, staying in touch, and having face time with one other. You can also use it for visual cues that may show signs of stress.
Toggl: It is an application for time tracking. It runs in the computers of remote workers in the background while they work on the tasks. It is useful for maximizing productivity. Managers can visualize the time spent by each worker on their allotted tasks. This also helps the managers make informed decisions to tweak productivity.
Slack: Slack is a communication tool, simple to use, and admired by remote workers. It allows remote workers to have discussions and share ideas. Slack uses channel-based interaction per topic and has an option for revisiting chats later on. You can also have one to one discussions, do voice calls, and even share files over it making it a great tool for virtual work.
Jira: It is a project management tool based on the Agile methodology. Jira can be used for planning, executing, and reviewing work on a regular basis. It helps managers pursue the team’s work throughput for company goals.
Instagantt: It is a project management tool that utilizes Gantt charts for progressing a project. It has a vibrant visual interface for remote planning and managing a project. It also helps you connect with your remote team members and allows you to create subtasks, tasks, projects, milestones, guidelines, and notifications.
Trello: Trello is a Kanban oriented project management utility. It is easy to use and has an appealing visual interface. Kanban is made for implementing large projects. You can utilize its multiple features to run a complex project. You can use it to track the progress of each task and team members for performance goals.
Google Drive: It is a free and widely popular file storing and sharing platform. It is useful for making, sharing, and archiving files on a reliable cloud hosting platform. For large file sizes, you can go for the paid version as well.
Dropbox: It is another file sharing platform. In fact, it is one of the oldest and reliable platforms available online. It is also available in two formats – in free and paid versions.
Grammarly: It is a web-based editing tool that works in real-time. It is useful for writing correct text, which is important for effective communication. Grammarly has several plugins for using it with several text editors and email clients.
Timezone converter: It is a handy website to know the local time of each remote team member. It is effective in scheduling online discussions.
Homebase: is a tool that tracks time, has an onboarding function for paperwork, a schedule creator, time-off management, and a suite of other tools.
Asana: Is project management software used by remote teams for planning, tracking, and managing projects.
Challenges Faced by Remote Employees
The present pandemic situation has accelerated the remote work or work from home concept. Due to the norms of social distancing, people are forced to stay at home and be a part of a remote workforce. Every organization is encouraging its employees to work from home.
Remote working has a set of challenges. Employees who were previously working in regular positions face these difficulties along with new remote appointees. Some of the significant problems are listed below:
Lack of direct interaction with managers and colleagues: Remote working reduces face-to-face interaction and unity among employees. This reduces the exchange of ideas and progress of the project. Though web conferencing is one of the solutions, it is not as effective as a face to face discussion.
Reduced access to information: Remote workers often face difficulties in accessing information from colleagues and company. They have to put in hours of extra effort to get the required information – something which they could have got easily in a regular office.
Isolation and low morale: Remote workers often suffer from isolation and low morale resulting in performance problems. This is true, particularly when their job is difficult or there is no one to extend a helping hand. This directly affects their work throughput.
Diversions at home: Remote workers have to keep up with distractions at home. Many times, remote workers have dependents at home, which tend to divert their attention from work. Shopping for essentials, house chores, a visiting relative, or even the occasional package delivery at the door tend to distract a remote worker, affecting their work schedule.
It may take a while for managers to manage their remote employees effectively and build rapport without a traditional office environment. Be proactive and with time and observation, so you can fine-tune your remote employee management strategy.
We mention here some of the benefits of hiring remote employees and any related challenges.
Remote teams are the reality of workplaces. If you manage your direct reports effectively, you can gain the required output from them. You just need to carefully plan your strategy keeping in mind the challenges faced by remote workers.
Using the tips mentioned above to become an effective manager, and you can maximize the team’s throughput and meet any daunting goals set in front of you.