Remote working is part of mainstream business. Some organizations have had remote workers for years, and others may have recently started to offer remote work options. Regardless of how long you have had remote work arrangements, managing remote employees effectively requires different proficiencies and tactics. If you manage remote employees incorrectly, the business will suffer. Now is an excellent time to take a moment to assess the remote working practices and processes you have in place, make changes if necessary to ensure long-term success.
Establish Remote Work Practices and Programs
- Remote roles/positions must be able to be performed from a remote location
- Provide the additional tools remote employees will need (i.e., work desk, chair, office supplies, phone, headset, etc.)
- Have a process for installing and removing equipment, technology, phones, and any property of the company
- Communicate if reimbursements are provided for office supplies, internet/phone, etc.
- Remote employees require additional information during orientation. For example, it may consist of training on collaboration tools; and a review of support resources (IT support, HR Support, Accounting, etc.); and security and privacy requirements.
Incorporate a Selection Process
Remote work is not for everyone. Ideally, before you select an internal employee or hire a new employee to work remotely, be confident they have the skills required to do the job off-site effectively. If you already manage remote employees, it would be worthwhile to assess if they have the skills to work remotely effectively or if additional training is required.
Incorporate Collaboration and Communication Strategies
It is essential to promote interaction and robust communications as a manager of a full or partially remote working team. The following best practices will help:
- Arrange collaborative opportunities for remote and on-site employees. Activities can be team assimilation exercises, continuing education, or social outings.
- Maintain a remote team calendar. Indicate vacations, deadlines, client meetings, and on-site meetings. The schedule will help the team feel connected.
- Communication strategies should consider all team members. Video meetings with a partial team in a conference room and others attending remotely can create communication hurdles.
- Leverage technology to build comradery. Many companies allow or encourage Slack, Zoom, and other online tools to help teams stay in touch, consider these as an option. The right tools can make a remote team more successful.
Manage The Performance of Your Entire Team
Manage performance consistently with on-site employees and remote workers. Set clear expectations regarding projects and tasks. It may be helpful to establish specific touchpoints with remote workers to ensure they get the same exposure as on-site employees.
- Do not micro-manage your remote team. It will be a distraction from the work that needs to be accomplished. Set clear agreed-upon goals and deliverables. Focus on objectives rather than activities. Demonstrate your trust in your employees.
- Make the time to listen to all of your employees. Get to know them, understand what they need from you to be successful in their current role.
- Take time to celebrate business milestones and personal events.
Managers have an opportunity to create a healthy work environment that builds strong relationships, promotes teamwork, and delivers business results. The ability to nurture a high performing team with a partially or fully remote staff requires not only strong leadership skills but a willingness to embrace a remote work culture.
An effectively managed remote team produces a productive, loyal, and highly engaged team.