Employers that have welcomed a remote employee workforce find many benefits for their business including extra productivity, less absenteeism, etc. However, managing remote employees can be a very different experience with its own unique set of challenges, regardless if it is your entire team that works remotely or just individuals. After all, things that are successful in an office setting don’t always have the same success when it comes to remote employees, and this may cause some issues.
To support you, here are three essential tips for managing remote employees.
1) Remember the Chit-Chat
When working with remote employees, it’s easy to forget about the human element of management. As is often the situation when in conversation with a remote worker, you will be talking through essential details, plan and leave the call with a to-do list. This isn’t a bad thing and is an integral part of running a business, however, if that is what every call consists of you are missing out on the essential element of management – knowing and understanding the individual, not just their work.
It is vital as a manager to build a rapport with every member of your team, even the remote ones. Rapport does not come from work talk 24/7; it comes from the general chit-chat about everything in between. Chit-chat is what will help you work through problems a team member may have, encourage them to have complete trust in you and demonstrate that they are cared for as more than just an employee but as an individual.
This doesn’t just apply to you as a manager. In the same instance, allowing for casual chats between co-workers helps to connect your team and encourage teamwork and productive collaboration.
2) Continually Set Goals & Recognise Achievements
As an employee, it’s critical to have some defining goals, to ascertain and communicate what it is you’re all working towards accomplishing. After all, completing an extensive workload goes far beyond just performing tasks and checking them off the list – it’s part of a bigger picture.
It is particularly relevant when managing remote employees who don’t have the in-office experience of seeing the company develop, hearing news or seeing goals achieved. Therefore, setting regular goals and reviewing progress provides a strong motivational force in achieving overall company aims and realising how their work has contributed towards that. In tandem to this, formalising goals provides a reliable tool to ensure remote workers are performing as expected and required by the business.
Likewise, recognising achievements and rewarding good performance is an essential aspect of managing remote employees. Since remote workers do not have the benefit of co-worker conversations where they might receive peer praise or receive appreciation from management in real time, acknowledging exceptional work is a great way to ensure remote workers are continually engaged in company success. For more on goal setting, see my article: Tips for Successfully Setting Employee Goals
3) Host Company Events
Nothing beats getting every employee together face to face – it’s a simple as that. Hosting company teambuilding events on an annual or quarterly basis allows your team to build more rapport in a few days of teamwork face to face, than months of remote meetings. One of the few cons of remote workers is that real communications don’t happen unless you ensure all the team is together! Regardless of how many remote workers you have, these get-togethers are a huge benefit.
These events may seem an unnecessary expense at times, but the return for staff morale and productivity is very high. The energy from these gatherings is always positive and provides an opportunity to have meaningful discussions about company culture, vision, and the team’s future together. They needn’t be on a grand scale either, it can be a multi-day event if your budget allows, or a simple one-day meetup– the idea prevails that everyone is in the same place at the same time.
By making use of these three tips, you can ensure you are successfully managing remote employees while improving productivity and ensuring remote employee satisfaction. If you would like to further streamline the management of your remote employees, you might also consider our Employee Self Service module which provides employees with direct access to their HR & Payroll records and allows a line manager to log in, using a standard web browser to manage their staff.