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How to manage your remote workforce when on vacations

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when it comes to managing employees who travel for work.

Manage your workforce when on vacation
Photo Credit: Pexels.com/Helena_Lopes

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…So, after months and months of nerve-wracking hard work, you deserve a great holiday. You may go on a week-long vacation or take a short trip to refresh yourself, there’s ample choice available in the world. However, when you are on a vacation, it doesn’t mean people working under you also stop working!

As the trend of working remotely continues, employers are still trying to improve the way they manage their distant workforce. This concern is multiplied particularly when you go on that much-needed vacation. 

So how do you ensure your employees are actually working when you are on holiday? Here are a few things that might help you.

Invest in time management software

Before you go on vacation, this is probably one of the simplest things that you can do to track the time your remote employees spend working. Make sure you invest in simple software that clocks when a worker logs in, how many hours he/she has worked and what time he logs out. This will certainly be beneficial even when you’re not on vacation. Along with helping employers know how much time each employee has worked in a day, the latter also benefit by not losing track of time or overworking.

Be reachable

It’s your business, after all, so you probably do want to check if everything is running smoothly even in your absence. You may conduct frequent videoconferencing on regular days to stay as connected to your remote employees. But while on vacation, you really want to stay away from that screen. Just make sure you share your travel itinerary with a few colleagues so they know which part of the world you are in. If you are likely to have limited access to the mobile network, inform your remote workers the same, and tell them to reach you on landline numbers of your place of stay, in case of any emergency.

Set a Pace of Communication

Remote employees don’t have the advantage of bumping into you in hallways, chatting over coffee or walking into your office for discussions. Setting a regular pace of communication is the next best thing, and that’s precisely what will help you feel reassured when you go on a vacation. Regular emails, reports of daily tasks, scheduled Skye conversations, weekly one-on-ones – have all these done at specific timings and you won’t feel anxious going on that holiday.

Delegation, delegation, delegation

When you are running your own business, delegation seems to be the toughest part. You can’t seem to trust anyone to do work exactly the way you would. But let’s face it – you are likely to spend so much more time if you want to do it all. Instead, delegate and make your life simpler. Identify what’s most important about a task and let your remote workers know that. This way, you will be less affected if the font is not the one you like or an analysis table looks different. Leave micromanagement outside the office, so that management while on your holiday is effective. 

Management software to ensure Productivity

When you go on a vacation, don’t let your business come to a standstill. According to Kshitij Saxena, product lead at Microsoft, “Use an agile management software that allows remote employees to regularly report their work on a daily or weekly basis (depending on the business requirement).” Make sure it’s simple to use so that remote employees don’t feel encumbered with an additional task. A lighter software will allow fast operations. And you don’t want to have the software-rendered obsolete in just a couple of years, so get an adaptable one. The software should allow productivity reports to be drawn quickly so that when you return to work, you can easily track the work that was done in your absence. 

Give your remote employees the chance to step up

Your vacation is a great way for your remote workforce to become decision-makers. And instead of letting your first vacation be a testing ground, use the time that you are at work to let them practice. Encourage distant workers to think out loud how they would react to a work situation if you were not available, and give them corrective feedback. Be transparent with your employees, you’ll definitely find your remote employees to be appreciative of this. Then, when you are off on your holiday, they are better equipped to handle challenging situations by themselves.

Prepare for worst-case scenarios

Don’t take this just as a good thought. It’s important to have contingency plans in place. These would help remote employees know how to function when faced with difficult work situations or high-risk scenarios. As an employer, even you are better prepared for the worst that could happen. A work-related panic attack is one of the last things that should bother you on that dreamy vacation.

Discuss after you return

Not about your holiday (alright, a little if you must!), but how your absence was dealt with at work. Find out if there were situations where remote workers were troubled and what did they do to get out of it. This is important to know if it was handled well, or if there could have been a better way to do it. It also helps you be aware of the challenges that you may not have considered and plan for them the next time you go on holiday. Moreover, it’s the quickest assessment of your workforce to know who stepped up and who is capable of managing tough situations.

Remote workforce comes with a lot of differences, and time is usually the most highlighted one. When you have employees working all over the country or from different countries, there could be delays. Offering flexible work hours is the best way to deal with that. When you go away on holiday, it may be difficult to track who’s working at what time and from which place. Ensure you have a time management system in place that clocks each employee’s work hours. Don’t just delegate work, trust them to do it too. As an employer, you would probably be respected more if you allow your remote workforce to function independently and not micromanage every single task given to them. Consider the above tips before going away, and you can be assured that your long-awaited vacation will truly be stress-free.

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