Effectively managing remote employees can be a tricky endeavor. Although telecommuting may be the ideal scenario for many workers, it can be difficult for business leaders to come to terms with never seeing their workforce in action.
The reality is that keeping your team coordinated and on-task is far more challenging outside of the office. This is particularly true for managers who are accustomed to measuring productivity by logged computer time and visible activity levels inside the office. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to create a management system that works, we’re here to help. Here are some tips for managing a remote team that will come in handy as you navigate the new normal of working from home:
Tip #1. Understand Common Teleworking Issues
Humans are social creatures by nature, which means face-to-face interaction is essential to our daily exchanges. This includes encounters in the workplace.
The absence of in-person communication can be stressful for remote team members. Not to mention the abundance of distractions when working from home—crying babies, barking dogs, loud relatives, etc. It’s important for managers to take these challenges into consideration when evaluating remote work policies.
Tip #2: Set Clear Expectations
There’s no one-size-fits-all standard when it comes to working from home. While productivity levels will vary from job to job, it’s important to implement a company-wide policy early on.
Maybe there’s an expectation that everyone in the organization should make themselves available for meetings and calls between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Individual standards can bear some flexibility. For example, a corporate recruiter may be required to conduct 15 phone interviews and fill seven positions every month. Documentation of these guidelines may help managers spot problems or bottlenecks that need to be addressed right away.
Tip #3: Create a Communication Cadence
Communication is a key business tool and a critical factor in its success. Wherever good communication is practiced, efficiency tends to follow. Poor communication, on the other hand, can result in disastrous consequences for your company.
By establishing a rhythmic sequence of communication, you can create and maintain consistency across your entire team. It’s the glue that strengthens relationships and improves processes.
When working remotely, tips and tools that yield the best results and foster an effective work environment include:
- Hosting weekly one-on-one meetings in which every direct report has 15-30 minutes to discuss ideas, review priorities, and ask questions.
- Sending a weekly training email that summarizes any current trends in your industry that you gathered from relevant publications or videos.
- Sending a monthly recap with sales updates, best practices, and client feedback to help the team collectively learn from mistakes or replicate any recent successes.
Tip #4: Keep it Personal
Without being physically in the office, it may seem impossible to feel like we still have the same support system we had pre-pandemic. But, strong, resilient relationships are integral to feeling safe, respected, and rewarded at work.
To ensure you can keep things fun, personal, and professional, we recommend the following:
- Ask your team members about their weekend within the first few minutes of your one-on-one meetings.
- Create a Slack channel or Basecamp chat dedicated to discussing things like sports, books, movies, or any other recreational activities.
Tip #5: Provide the Right Technology
As a manager, it’s your job to make sure that your employees are equipped with the technology needed to succeed in their roles. This goes far beyond the standard mobile phone and laptop.
Do they have adequate cameras for virtual meetings? High-speed internet? An external keyboard? Ergonomic chair?
Remember, any workplace can withstand a one or two-week work from home setup. But if you want to maintain productivity levels consistent with how it was in the office for several months, you should be prepared to make at least a minimal investment in the basics.
Be mindful that this shift may be more uncomfortable for some, so you’ll want to coach them on how to handle these changes from the get-go.
Tip #6: Boost Recognition
Often one of the most overlooked remote work management tips, effective motivation can go a long way. This is particularly true of employees that are separated by time zones and spread out across the country or around the world.
Recognition doesn’t only motivate the recipient, but it also signals to other workers the types of behaviors they should emulate. And these rewards don’t have to be monetary—consider a public acknowledgment of a job well done, tokens of appreciation, or a free day off.
Managers working at organizations struggling with low morale can also take this time to present development opportunities to employees who typically don’t have the capacity.
Tip #7: Encourage Innovation
Businesses across industries are still operating amid high levels of uncertainty, making their workforce more risk-averse than usual.
With more at stake, employees can feel hesitant to try something new. But it’s at this point where innovation can make a much bigger impact in organizational success.
Teams are looking to their managers for leadership, so it’s important to foster a virtual work environment in which people feel comfortable sharing out-of-the-box ideas and suggestions for improvement.
Have any additional tips for working remotely? Or questions related to implementing some of these recommendations with your own team? Let us know in the comments below.
Andres Garzon, Jobsity CEO and Founder received an MBA from Fordham University in New York City after graduating from University San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in 2003. He has also received a degree in Endeavor Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures from Harvard Business School. In 2019 he participated the Stanford Endeavor Innovation & Growth Program from Stanford University. During his postgraduate studies, Andres bet everything on Latin American talent. Today, Jobsity is a remote company and has a team of more than 200 people based in NYC, Houston, Quito, Cartagena, Medellín, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and many more cities in Latin America.