Working remotely is not a trend anymore; it is a permanent feature in organizations. COVID-19 has made us shift to our homes for work so we can maintain the necessary output of the company. Before lockdown, working remotely was a strange idea. Many companies never allowed it or considered including it in their work culture. Managing employees was pretty much about observing them working in an office in front of you. From the perspective of managers, the productivity of employees was heavily affected by the amount of time they spent sitting at their desks. Now we understand that it does not really have much to do with productivity.
Working remotely allows employees to put in the effort when they feel most productive and focused. This improves the quality of work as they can now bring more creativity into their work. The flexibility of remote work improves the company’s output and makes it more convenient and safe for employees to work from home while new variants of the virus continue to emerge. This also means that the team leaders now need a remote employee management system to track employees working from various locations. Because remote working is unfamiliar to many, managing these teams can be a huge challenge. Now that the location of the employees is no longer a hurdle, we are working with the teams that are scattered all across the globe. We all know that this work model is here to stay, and we need good strategies for remote employee management. Here we are going to discuss the 7 strategies for managing remote employees.
Communication in the workplace is important for the work processes to run smoothly. It enables employees to have a clear idea about the goals and deadlines they are concerned with. In the offices, it is easy to have a small face-to-face conversation with anyone at any time. The remote working conditions may make us feel disconnected and isolated. Lack of communication and coordination can cause misunderstandings and heavily impact productivity. While working from home, it becomes a bit challenging. Not only because they do not share a physical space, but also because the hours they work vary. Coordination here takes a little more effort and planning.
Have frequent and meaningful communication with your team. The type of tool and mode of communication can be determined by the kind of exchange you want it to be. For example, when it comes to brainstorming for ideas, a video call is more suitable as you need many people in a conversation, while when there is some general message that does not necessarily have to be a long conversation, it can be delivered as an email. Managers also need to design a proper communication strategy to ensure effectiveness for remote teams. They can plan weekly, monthly, and daily communication to stay connected even if the team members are working in different time zones.
2. Team Building
Workplace relationships are important from both a personal and professional perspective. It makes it easier to work as a team and solve issues as and when they arise. When there is a strong sense of team, it acts as a productivity booster. While working remotely, these relationships are not easy to maintain. Many people have joined the organization while working from home and haven’t gotten a chance to meet their team members in person. The sense of connection with the colleagues and team manager is important to bring in the necessary coordination and ease in the interactions. While working remotely, special efforts have to be made to build a sense of team. You can introduce new members to the team with a short meeting. Also, plan regular fun activities and team competitions to keep a sense of connection among the employees.
3. Avoid Micromanagement
It is crucial to control the urge to micromanage everything. Micromanagement shows distrust in your employees, whether they work in an office or from home. When working from remote locations, people have different responsibilities. The flexibility allows them to put in more effort when they are more focused, rather than struggling for longer than the time they actually work. This means that the working hours of your team will be different for all members, as some employees will wrap up their work in the evening while others will start working.
In the remote team, output and actual productivity are more important than total working hours. The time they spend working can be misleading as that does not always match with their productivity. Create a system to communicate the assignment of daily or weekly tasks as well as to report on the status of the same. You do not need to check on your employees every few hours to ensure productivity. If the work is getting delivered in the set timeframe with the necessary quality, it means that employees are being productive and do not need your micromanagement.
4. Equip your Employees
It is your responsibility as an employer or manager to make sure that the team members have all the tools and technology access they need to achieve optimum performance. We just simply cannot go with the assumption that since all the equipment, like laptops and access to important software, was available at the office, it is the same for the team while they work remotely. Things like the absence of high-speed internet can decrease their productivity or make them much longer than usual, leading to burnout. To avoid any type of inconvenience and disarray, you can make a checklist of all the necessary tools and technology needed to work with maximum efficiency in a particular job role and make arrangements for the team to get all of that.
Feedback is important for employees to learn and improve at work. The right and timely feedback can make sure that employees quickly pick up on what is expected and take corrective action, plus it also helps them to make sure that similar mistakes are not repeated in the future. Feedback, may it be positive or negative in nature, has to be communicated immediately to have the right impact. You cannot always wait for the appraisal for that, as that leads to a lack of productivity and a waste of time. Employees also want to get frequent and meaningful feedback so they can direct their efforts accordingly and go ahead in their careers with better productivity. While working remotely frequent feedback make sure that standards and expectations are properly met.
6. Set Expectations
It is important for every employee to know what is expected of them. Having a goal and deadline in mind helps to give the right direction and pace to the efforts. Managers should create realistic goals for the team members so they get a proper idea of what is expected from them. Explaining the reasons behind the tasks helps achieve better clarity and also acts as a motivating factor. It is also important to make clear how the manager measures the quality or success of work. This makes the expectations very clear and avoids wasting time on repetitive corrections for everyone. You can also take this opportunity to state what kind of work is considered below standards or unacceptable.
When there are no clear expectations for the tasks and assignments, employees tend to go with their own pace and working style, which can heavily differ from what is necessary. This ambiguity leads to confusion, less productivity, and missed deadlines. You can get the help of virtual meetings at regular intervals or create a sheet with all types of details, such as the hours that you expect a particular task to be completed, to make sure that there is no confusion in the minds of your employees.
Trust is important for people to work as a team. Managers and employees both need to have mutual trust. A lack of faith in the team often causes arguments in situations in which simply communicating the issue could have been resolved that way sooner. Needless to say, this causes a drain on productivity and time. Communication should always be clear. Do not neglect points that can cause confusion. Sometimes a team leader or manager is the primary source of information in a remote working situation. Make sure to maintain transparency and update your team about all the important changes or activities of concern.
Managing remote teams is not easy for people, as most organizations didn’t have remote teams before COVID 19. For people to work as a team, it is important to have a sense of connection and mutual trust. Various team-building activities and transparency can help to build better relationships as employees do not get a chance to meet in person. There are many tools and technology necessary for the optimum productivity of the employees, and you can make a checklist according to various job roles to make sure that the absence of tools does not cause a lack of productivity. Remote teams also need to have a clear idea about what is expected from them and get regular feedback so they can direct their efforts accordingly. Clear and precise communication always helps to avoid confusion, build trust and relationships, as well as make sure that the coordination and work process is not compromised due to the remote locations of the employees.
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