Remote work has become a growing trend in today’s workforce. While this might sound great, some managers find it difficult to manage remote workers. It’s challenging to manage and communicate with people when you’re not in the same location.
If you want to learn how to manage remote workers, if you’re looking to upgrade your management skills, this post is here to help. Let’s dive right in!
What Is Remote Work?
Remote work means leaders and their employees work without having direct contact with each other. Thanks to Internet-connected devices, tasks can be done as smoothly and easily as working offline.
Remote teams often use project management software so that everyone can control their task status and work progress.
Some people might mistake remote work with “work-from-home”. Remote work is a broader term. Remote workers don’t have to complete their tasks in the comfort of their own home, but they can work from anywhere. They can work from coffee shops, coworking spaces, or even in another country.
Why Remote Work Has Become a Trend?
Remote work has become a trend in most companies. Why?
People have become more concerned about the time they spend for their family or their own leisure. Not having to come to the workplace allows them to manage their work and personal lives better. There’ll be fewer traffic jams and unwanted accidents, as well as a reduction in commuting expenses.
In terms of productivity, many remote workers feel they have more outstanding performance when not having to work at the office. With the help of technology, they can still maintain relationships with their colleagues.
In fact, many state that coming to the same workplace day after day can lead to their lives being dull, which subsequently leads to stress, or even physical and mental health problems.
With these matters in mind, many people prioritize the ability to work remotely when applying for a new job.
2 Common Types of Remote Work
In-Person with Work-From-Home Option
This is a model in which the employee has to report on their work in-person at the workplace at least once or twice a week. They can choose flexibly which days of the week to work from home, or the business will assign them. Most of the tasks can be done offsite, however, in-person meetings are essential every week.
Fully Remote Work
This means the leaders and remote workers may never meet face-to-face. Instead, they assign tasks, discuss, and do all the work online. This is a useful method for businesses that don’t have a physical office.
How to Manage Remote Workers?
Set up an Online Workplace
To promote accuracy and efficiency, you should give remote workers the right tools for their jobs. The online workplace is a set of tools and applications that recreates the entire offline working environment, ensuring smooth workflow and operation.
There are various choices available that you can decide to use depending on your business. You can check out G Suite, Slack, Trello, Microsoft Team, Zoom, etc. These online tools are totally powerful and will optimize the work of remote workers.
Establish Policies for Remote Work
Without consistent guidelines and rules, remote workers might not know what to do and prioritize the wrong tasks. That’s why you should establish policies regarding remote work to improve employee’s work efficiency.
By creating policies exclusively for remote workers, you can manage your whole business more effectively. Your employees also know what behaviors and attitudes they should employ to comply with your business requirements better.
Managers should establish rules for remote workers and communicate these to new hires as soon as possible. Let them know your expectations and make sure communication goes smoothly to avoid misunderstandings.
Prioritize Clear Communication
One of the disadvantages of remote work is not being able to have a face-to-face talk. So, it’s essential to prioritize clear communication with your remote team.
In many cases, your team might comprise people from different countries and they don’t share the same native language/culture. Misunderstanding or misinterpretation can easily happen, even when you’re working offline.
So, prioritizing a clear, direct, and simple communication rule among your remote workers will elevate your business productivity and efficiency. Encourage your remote workers to not make assumptions and always ask questions if they aren’t clear about something.
Always Be in Touch
For employees working at the office, they can reach out directly and receive immediate responses. As for remote workers, they have to rely on emails or texts, and replies don’t always come straight away.
Communicating and keeping up with remote workers require a special effort from the manager. You need to be in touch with remote employees. Set a certain time frame when you’ll reply back and expect others to reply back. For example, at Doist, team members don’t have to respond to messages right away, but they need to reply within 24 hours.
Every business has its own business secrets to keep. So, remote information security is also an important factor in remote workers’ management. That could be a list of customers, price lists, discounts, recipes, etc.
You need to seek online/cloud-based methods of storing information so that information won’t be stolen or lost. You can equip staff with apps and security measures such as security codes and password protection of company information, labels for confidential files, as well as establishing policies regarding data breaches.
Care about Employees’ Emotions
Under the influence of COVID-19, many have transitioned from working at the office to working remotely. It takes time for employees to adjust their lifestyle and managers need to care about employees’ emotions.
Check in with your employees frequently, even when they don’t mention anything about stress or anxiety. Ask them how they’re doing and if there’re any challenges they’re facing. Even a general question like “How did this remote work situation work for you so far?” can elicit important information that you might not realize.
When you ask a question, be sure to pay careful attention to the answer. Acknowledge their difficulties, be empathetic, and provide support if needed.
Organize Virtual Team Building Activities
Team building activities are always a necessary part of creating a positive team culture. For remote workers, many team-building activities can be used to encourage the development of skills and strong interpersonal connections with others.
You can organize remote team building games such as Fitness Challenge, Emoji Game, Rose And Thorn, etc., and encourage your remote workers to take part in. This is an effort to give teleworkers a similar experience as working in a physical location.
Hold Effective Virtual Meetings
Normally, with the usual face-to-face meeting, it’s easier to get your ideas across to your employees. You can exchange ideas and clarify problems without communication problems. However, for online meetings, there are various factors that can affect the quality of the meeting such as technology, family issues, or even their pets.
Make sure you choose the right tool to optimize your communication. Create a clear agenda, with specific objectives, and avoid going over the time limit. Encourage your remote workers to speak during the meetings and avoid chit-chats until the end. Always have a Q&A session to ensure that your remote workers understand every task and review the meeting content before wrapping up.
There’s no doubt that managing a remote team takes effort. Simply giving out tasks and leaving your employees be is never enough.
Take some time to go through this guide on how to manage remote workers and make your existing management process better. You’ll soon see that a proper management strategy will not only keep people productive but also keep them with your business.