Remote working doesn’t look like a passing trend – it’s set to stay. Within a decade, the number of people working from their own home in the UK has almost doubled from 884,000 in 2008 to 1.54 million in 2018, as reported by the Office for National Statistics.
And according to Gallup’s It’s the Manager book, if they were given the choice, most workers would choose remote working over a salary raise. With the many known benefits of working remotely for both business owners and employees – higher productivity, lower stress, better work-life balance, less business operational costs to name a few – it’s not hard to see why.
But managing remote employees does come with its challenges, even with the help of cloud HR software. The remote worker’s lack of real facetime – that you usually get working in an office – can be a hurdle in building trust and developing good relationships. This, in turn, can quickly risk your employees feeling isolated, making them less engaged and productive.
As it’s increasingly becoming an expectation amongst the workforce, knowing how to effectively manage remote employees is crucial in ensuring your team can perform at their best. Whether your team is comprised of a mixture of remote and office workers, or if you’re managing a fully remote team, here are 7 things you should do to support your team members.
- Shift your mindset – it’s all about the results
The negative stereotype that because managers can’t see their remote workers they’re probably not putting in the hours and are slacking off, hasn’t disappeared yet. This cannot be any further from the truth. According to virtual training cloud service provider CoSo Cloud, 30% of remote workers surveyed stated they were able to do more in less time, with 23% happy to work longer than their normal office work hours. So, instead of focusing on how many hours they’re putting in or how they’re doing their work, define goals and targets, and use them to measure their accomplishments.
2. Have a clear onboarding process
Make sure your well-structured onboarding process extends to your remote workers and not just to your in-office employees. Getting them settled and off to a great start will help employee engagement and productivity. Creating an onboarding checklist can help you ensure they have all the tools, training and information they need to get started.
3. Set clear expectations
When you want to set a task for your remote workers, it’s crucial to specify exactly what you need and when you need it for. For example, if you want them to edit a report asap, what information do you want to be added? What time and day do you want it by? Your definition of “further details” and “as soon as possible” can mean something entirely different to another person, so it’s best to avoid vague instructions.
4. Acknowledge and thank your remote employees
Remote workers can easily feel invisible and think that their hard work is not being recognised by their employer, so it’s important you congratulate them on a job well done when the opportunity calls for it. It doesn’t even have to cost you anything. You can post commendable achievements on your company’s HR portal or intranet to encourage peers to also show their appreciation.
5. Take advantage of the technology at your disposal
Working with remote employees can require some extra effort due to not being in the same space, so make sure you use the different digital solutions you have for easier communication. Whether that’s messaging/video call applications, project management or collaboration tools that allow different people to work on the same files in real-time, determine which ones best suit your team’s needs.
6. Establish boundaries with your team
Although remote working provides flexibility, one of the biggest issues remote workers have difficulty with is the ability to switch off, as reported by social media management company Buffer. This risks negatively affecting one’s wellbeing as their work infringes on their personal life. Find out each of your team members’ work patterns and schedules to figure out the best times to reach them, especially if you’re a global team with members in different time zones. Everyone works a little differently, so you’d want to find the right balance of communication to avoid your team feeling micromanaged or not informed enough.
7. Get to know remote employees on a personal level
Working from home saves employees from distractions in the office, such as small chats with colleagues and coffee breaks. But sometimes, these social interactions are necessary to make employees feel included and build good relationships with co-workers. Dedicate the first couple of minutes of a call or meeting to ask your remote employees how they’re doing and what they’ve been up to. And, if possible, you should agree on a regular schedule to meet in person – whether that’s weekly, monthly or quarterly.
Ensuring your remote employees have the right tools and support to fulfil their roles means they’ll be more engaged, motivated and productive overall.