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5 Tips for Managing Remote Workers

by Olufisayo
Managing Remote Workers

Remote work was already big before 2020 hit – but now, it has become the norm in many companies that used to do everything on site. Managing remote workers presents multiple challenges. However, it also has many advantages, and we can expect it to become the norm rather than the exception in many businesses in the future.

After all, when employees work from home, they see it as a huge perk, and that means a better chance of recruiting and keeping the best staff. Apart from that, you don’t need to cover the cost of office space, and they’re often quite happy to cover all or part of the cost of office equipment too. Now, all we need is a few tips to make the management and how to monitor employees working from home easier. Here are a few ideas.

1. Track Time or Results

There are two primary ways to remunerate remote employees. Paying for results is, perhaps, the easiest – but some employees will still need to be remunerated for time spent rather than results achieved.

Since managers can’t use straightforward attendance registers when dealing with remote workers, employee time tracking will be necessary. Sounds complicated? Necessity is the mother of invention, or to use a slightly more modern cliche, “There’s an app for that.”

2. Use Workflow Software

Once upon a time, workflows were managed using spreadsheets – and they still can be – but workflow software makes the whole process easier. There are various software packages that automatically allocate work based on the process flows of your design.

As an added bonus, you can follow workflows to look for bottlenecks and then tweak your processes to achieve greater efficiency. Meanwhile, your employees receive notifications, clear deadlines, and reminders. It all adds up to a workflow management process that works equally well in the office or with remote workers.

3. Communicate Well

Lack of communication can be an issue when dealing with remote workers. Even with automated systems in place, employees still need to give and receive input from managers and supervisors. You and your team may also like some “face time” even though you aren’t meeting at a physical location.

As in traditional models, meetings help to keep employees engaged, informed, and on track. Video bridges the gap between words and non-verbal cues including body language and tone. Once again, there are tons of options and platforms to consider – but whichever one you choose, remember that good communication and plenty of give-and-take aren’t ruled out just because you and your team are at different locations.

While we’re on the subject of the importance of communication, remember that “Business only” talk doesn’t fulfill the social needs that employees need in order to be part of a team. A bit of small-talk can go a long way in making people feel included and valued as individuals. So, take the time to discuss the weather, current news, or simply ask how they’re doing. “Remote” doesn’t necessarily equate with “impersonal,” but it can all too easily become that way.

4. Offer Help and Support

Remote employees may be reluctant to ask for help and support when they need it most. Don’t let them feel like they’re on their own – offer to do what you can to make their work-life easier.

Since you don’t know much about their individual circumstances, open-ended questions, and offers of help will make them feel free to share questions, concerns, and work-related issues. Whether or not you’re in a position to do anything about the issues they might raise, knowing that you understand their situation and the challenges they’re facing will help to keep them motivated. And if you can help, that’s even better!

5. Remember that Basic Principles Still Apply

In centralized physical locations, managers are more inclined to see people as individuals with personal and career ambitions. Don’t forget that these things are still important, even when employees are working from home. They want to know how they’re doing – not just what they’re doing. They appreciate recognition and guidance. They look forward to career advancement and personal growth. They require a feeling of inclusion.

In any employment relationship, there’s a great temptation to overlook things that are going smoothly, only taking action when problems arise. Do this at your peril. When employees feel under-appreciated; when they don’t fully understand their KPAs and how they are measured; when they are not in a position to understand their company’s strategic goals or how they can benefit from contributing to them, they won’t be able to give their best.

Keep Doing What You Did On-Site – Only Better

Technology offers us many ways to do exactly the same things managers did in person using remote platforms. But somehow, it’s easier to overlook an email than it is to ignore someone standing in front of your desk.

Try to incorporate all the elements of good management you practiced at centralized offices when dealing with remote workers. Keep them involved. Consider their ideas and suggestions and give feedback, supervise effectively, offer help as needed.

Managing remote workers doesn’t have to be difficult, but you may have to remind yourself that your employees still need the same attention they needed when you walked past their desks several times a day. So, if handshakes are currently out – send them a handshake from the heart instead.

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