by Becka Singler
Advances in business technology have made it possible to work from places other than the office. As both workers and managers navigate these new remote work capabilities, benefits and challenges have emerged. One of the biggest challenges has proven to be how to manage these remote workers.
Managing remote employees can feel like a completely different challenge than managing those you work with in close physical proximity. Often times things that work in an office don’t fully translate for remote employees. Luckily, this is not a dead end and there are different steps you can take to improve the management of remote employees so they’re productive and more importantly so that they feel engaged with the rest of the team.
Here are a few tips for managing remote employees
#1: Set Clear Expectations
Establish expectations and open up constant dialogue around goals and deadlines to stay on the same page. Try to standardize deadlines for both remote workers and team members in the office. Just because remote workers don’t have commute time every day doesn’t mean they need to dedicate that extra hour or so to completing work tasks. Encourage remote workers to set ‘working hours’ including a hard start and stop time. This way boundaries will exist between when they are working or unavailable.
#2: Provide Reliable Tech
If your remote employees are unable to download files, have one broken speaker on their headphones, or regularly receive meeting invitations for a different time zone, you have failed to address the basics. Initially invest in reliable technology and tools to make collaboration possible and simple, and then develop uniform processes to use said tools.
#3: Encourage Relationship Building
Empathize with and show appreciation for your employees’ lives by asking about their families, hobbies and beliefs. If you’re a part of management, check in frequently with your remote employees using unified communication collaboration tools and practices such as shared docs and spreadsheets, phone calls, instant messaging, and video chat to create a personal feel. Visibly indicate that you are supportive of their success by offering your help or advice on reaching goals rather than checking on daily progress or numbers.
#4: Utilize Video Conferencing
Because half of human communication is nonverbal, not being able to see someone you are conversing with can be difficult and confusing. To avoid this confusion with remote employees, utilize video conferencing as much as possible. Being able to read the visual cues your counterpart gives off will give you a better understanding of what they are actually thinking or feeling.
#5: Focus on Goals Rather than Activity
It’s important to manage expectations and focus on goals when dealing with your remote workforce. Try not to worry as much about what is being done, rather concentrate on what is being accomplished. If your team is meeting its goals, great, but if it’s not, take a look into the situation further and assess what needs to change.
#6: Utilize Animated GIFs and Emojis
As mentioned before, a large percentage of communication is nonverbal, and therefore it’s often difficult for words alone to convey your full message. Especially in work situations, words can come across as more aggressive or not as impactful as you intended. To help convey meaning better, find a gif to send along with your message, or include emoticons throughout your message.
Follow these tips to help your remote employees feel included and confident in their goals and tasks at hand. When your managers know how to properly handle remote workers, your employees will feel better as well. This will result in your business working smoothly and striving for success.
Photo Credit: Medena Rosa, Unsplash