Managing employees is never easy. As more and more workers move away from the traditional office space in favor of remote work, team management is becoming even harder. But with many companies taking on remote staff, it’s essential to learn a different management style aligned with this type of employee. And to do it successfully, here are some tips for managing employees who work from home.
1. Create a Workplace Online
Before you even hire someone to work from home, you need to create a “digital workplace”, as remote work requires a multitude of digital tools to be successful. Collaboration and communication are key here, as people need to be able to work together from anywhere on the planet. The best way to do it is to divide the software you will need according to its usability:
- Communication – chat apps for quick internal communication instead of more formal emails, like Slack, Messenger, Viber or Skype. But also WhatsApp and Skype for online phone calls;
- Collaboration – the best collaboration apps give staff the ability to work on the same project simultaneously and to work together on tasks in real time, as G Suite and Salesforce;
- Time Tracking – task management apps represent are collaborative workspaces that allow you to set to-dos and deadlines and track progress on projects big and small, like Trello, Basecamp, and HubSpot;
- Shareability – cloud storage apps increase the amount of data that can flow between coworkers regardless of its size, and includes apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and One Drive.
2. Hire the Right People – And Trust Them
When considering taking on remote workers, it’s important to choose the right people for the job. Employees who work from home need to be highly motivated, self-sufficient workers whom you can trust to do the work you set in front of them. But your main focus should always be whether or not remote workers can do the work according to the agreed terms.
Your job here is to provide direction and guidance on how and when to complete tasks, but not to set limitations concerning how they go about completing them. If you can’t trust them to do the work or you don’t keep to your end of the deal, remote work stops being effective.
Additionally, this allows you to think outside of the box when hiring remote staff. You are able to source employees from a disability employment service provider to give an opportunity to marginalized groups or hire college students or experienced workers without a degree. Remember, the only two factors to take into account is if they can do the job and if you trust them.
3. Set Clear Expectations
Be upfront and transparent when working with remote employees. Because remote teams have less structure than their in-house coworkers, it is vital to compensate for that by setting more structured expectations.
To do this, you need to go through all the requirements to avoid any confusion later one. This means discussing major projects and deadlines, daily and weekly tasks, scheduled meetings, and monthly results. You also need to be clear on hours and availability, as well as time-tracking and reporting.
When everyone is on the same page, it inspires trust. And a working relationship built on openness, trust, and clear expectations will be more fruitful and last longer.
4. Encourage Accountability
Being able to work from home doesn’t mean avoiding accountability. Regular one-on-one conversations among managers and direct reports should happen regularly to ensure clear goals are set and achieved according to deadlines.
Additionally, workers need to be aware that if a problem comes up, they need to be ready to take immediate action to help solve it. This ensures everyone is up to date with their work, but it also maintains engagement among remote staff even when they are not in the physical office.
5. Be Inclusive
When staff is divided into in-house and remote teams, it’s integral to be inclusive. Extending invitations to every employee for all team meetings, professional development programs, and office parties is key to maintain this level of inclusion.
Not all employees are able to attend every meeting due to their location or time zone restrictions. But creating regular online hangouts at an overlapping time can bring together geographically separated people to make them feel a part of a bigger team.
6. Plan Get-Togethers
A downside to managing remote employees is the lack of face-to-face interaction. It’s a good idea then to arrange get-togethers at least once a year to increase face time with the entire team.
This can easily serve as a great team-building trip as everyone is in one place for a few days, which gives you an opportunity to really get more face time and discuss things other than work.
And if you’re worried about cost, don’t be. Remote employees save a ton of money each week, so the money that remains can easily be invested back into the team.
7. Prevent Burnout
Managers tend to give more work to remote employees simply because of a suspicion that without direct control they may be slacking off. In reality, remote workers do more as they have far fewer distractions and can better manage their time and obligations.
However, what managers fail to realize is that increasing the workloads of remote employees they run the risk of causing exhaustion. Instead, managers should look to create a company standard that calculates either hours per day or tasks done per week to prevent employee burnout. This gives you a much better understanding of how much work is done, so you can stay on top of employee performance and output.
Guest author, Emma Worden is a startup funding consultant from Sydney, Australia. She enjoys reading and writing on different aspects of entrepreneurship, usually finance and marketing. If you want to read more of her work, you can find it at https://bizzmarkblog.com/
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