Managing an offsite team is challenging. You’re not there to provide hands-on instruction and guidance. Communication issues arise. It’s hard to keep everyone engaged.
If you’re struggling, here are 6 tips on how to manage your offsite employees better.
1. Enhance communication
Communication is the key element in managing offsite employees. When management and employees are in different locations, it’s difficult to exchange ideas and observe employees’ attitudes. You can’t really tell if someone is going through a tough time unless they tell you so.
To improve communication with offsite employees, try to utilize your internal communication channels—chat app, project management software, team messaging app. Check in with them regularly to see if they’re OK. Schedule calls to follow up and give feedback.
Try to create a comfortable and friendly place to encourage your employees to share. Maybe you don’t have all that time to chit-chat about everything, but at least show that you’re willing to listen.
2. Provide adequate resources for employees to work
Depending on what your business is and what industry you’re in, provide the right tools and resources for employees to complete their work.
Do your employees need a budget for laptops, smartphones, or stronger internet access? Cleaning tools? Delivery vehicles? Printers for legal professionals? Webcams for online job interviews? Fiber optic internet data plan or mobile data plan to communicate on the go?
If you’re not sure about what employees need but don’t have, ask them or conduct an internal survey. You may not be able to afford everything, but if many staff ask for the same thing, it’s worth the consideration.
3. Monitor employees’ work
When your employees don’t work onsite, how can you monitor their progress and results? Try these tips to make sure your staff don’t get lost:
- Provide specific tasks and instructions
- Set up metrics to measure the effectiveness of employee performance
- Seek feedback from customers (if your business is in the service industry)
- Have a clear recognition and reward program
- Set up clear disciplinary actions in your company policies
4. Ensure confidentiality of information
The confidentiality of data is important when managing offsite employees. You don’t want your customer lists, customer information, sales lists, discounts, business strategies, etc. to go into someone else’s hands.
Small business owners may not pay enough attention to information security. They share passwords and numbers with any staff, without any safeguards to ensure those details do not leak out.
Invest in data security software and establish policies regarding data breaches. Many employees leak data unaware, so you should provide training on data security and online safety, too. If you’re careful, you can buy data breach and cyber liability insurance and prepare a plan for the worst-case scenario.
5. Talk to your offsite employees
Managers need to see their employees as people with goals, dreams, and feelings – not as tools to be handed out a to-do list and forced to follow.
Talk to your employees about the challenges they’re facing and what changes should be made, in terms of their contract, welfare, work conditions, etc.
By doing this, you’re building relationships with your employees, and more importantly, you make them feel they’re appreciated.
6. Minimize employee fraud
Not every employee is honest. It’s sad, but it’s true. Many employees still attempt fraudulent behaviors, and this either affects your business performance or costs you a huge amount of money.
To avoid fraud without micromanaging your staff, you can use technology to automate procedures. You can better manage fragile steps in the workflow such as the history of editing and deleting documents; how many times an invoice has been printed, by who, at what time, and more.
Technology also allows you to supervise employees without you being there, perfect for managing the offsite workforce. You can track and control your business operations in real-time. You simply need access to the Internet, digital devices, and a reliable cloud-based solution.
Managing offsite employees requires adaptation and appropriate supervision from managers. You may need extra effort to evaluate employees’ work and the overall results.
Let’s start by outlining policies for offsite operations. Provide specific requirements, standards, and guidelines. Also, be mindful of your relationships with your employees. Make them feel like they’re part of a team.
Applying the above methods, then gradually adjusting your practices, and managing offsite employees will be easier than ever.