With the huge advances in technology, it’s never been easier to have and manage a remote workforce. While many of the principles and practices used to oversee in-office staff can be used to manage a staff spread out all over the country—and the globe—there are some key factors that managers need to keep in mind.
Lead your team to victory—and successfully manage a remote workforce—with these tips!
It’s perhaps the number one reason most companies are reticent to go remote. They’re simply afraid that if they let employees work from home, they’ll goof off. That’s why it’s crucial to trust your employees as if they were working in a brick and mortar office. While meeting deadlines and work completed is a sure sign of an employee’s productivity, it’s better to show your employee that you trust him by showing a vested interest in him beyond spreadsheets and meeting minutes. If possible, arrange to meet with your workers (or have employees who are geographically close to each other meet up) at least a couple of times a year. Creating a connection beyond work will go a long way in showing trust.
Do a test.
Sure, the job candidate’s resume reads like a dream, but you spy one big red flag that could possibly prevent you from hiring him: he doesn’t have any work-from-home experience. When you’re considering job candidates, it’s important to go beyond what’s written on the page and give the applicant a test. By testing your job candidate, you can see if a) he has the skills for the position and b) has the ability to complete the task on time working from home.
Assess your workforce.
Your team is a mixed bag of in-office workers, part-time employees, and a small smattering of full-time remote workers. While it’s not to say that having a diverse workforce won’t work for you, having some employees working in the office and some at home (and others who work different variations of a flexible schedule, such as a compressed workweek), can make things tricky for you as a manager. If some employees are allowed to work from home (and others aren’t, despite the fact that their job could be done remotely), this can set up resentment and envy among colleagues. So take the time to go over each employee’s role and responsibilities to determine if most of your staff can work virtually. Otherwise, it can create confusion and animosity in the office.
Watch the clock.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a manager who is upset that his employees work too much. Unfortunately, that is often the case with remote workers, who tend to overwork, not underwork. Thing is, when your employee is overworked, he can burn out much more quickly, leaving you with the responsibility to replace him when he gives his two-week notice. So make sure that you’re assigning your employees a fair amount of work duties (and not giving them too much to do under the assumption that since they’re working from home, they should work more) and take note if they are able to complete tasks on time or are always struggling to catch up.
You have regularly scheduled meetings to check in on your staff’s progress, offer updates, and to answer any questions they might have. But to successfully manage a remote workforce you should also check in with them on a more personal level, too. Every few months or so, you should speak with your virtual workers (either by phone, video conferencing, or Skype) to find out how they are doing. Sans an office kitchen and a water cooler, this is a great way to stay connected to your remote workforce and to establish a deeper bond with them. While the main focus of the convo should be about how they are doing beyond work, you can take this opportunity to address any potential problems or issues either you or they might have.
Much like managing a traditional in-office workforce, having a remote workforce takes time, energy, and commitment. But what you’ll get back from showing respect and staying connected with them is a workforce that is happy, loyal, and most importantly, dedicated to the company.