Remote work is no longer a social-distancing measure. Companies and employees now want to take full advantage of the perks of the work-from-home model. This is why more and more big brands and startups are transitioning.
A 2021 Mercer study found that 70% of employers plan to take at least part of their operations remotely. Another 2021 survey by FlexJobs reported that 58% of employees wanted to be full-time remote workers long after the pandemic.
Report after report has also stated that remote work boosts productivity and saves cost.
However, a virtual office can only yield these benefits if it’s managed properly. The challenges of managing remote teams can be overwhelming if you don’t have the right strategies. This article will cover tips that will help you manage and motivate your teleworkers to move your organization forward.
Let’s dive right in.
Organize Daily Check-Ins
Checking in on employees each day is vital in a new remote work environment. Regular one-on-one meetings can help uncover roadblocks, build trust, review priorities, and identify challenges.
Managers should go beyond text messages, emails, and Slack DMs. It’s essential to carry out the check-ins in a conversational manner, face to face. That means video calls via Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom, among others. Personal meetings foster instant feedback, and email replies can often seem tedious for employees with a lot on their plates.
How check-ins are executed is also important. Managers should be present, engaged, and interested in the conversation. It also helps to be empathetic. Letting the employee know their well-being matters fosters trust and loyalty.
Take Communication to the Next Level
Remote work can impede communication and create silos. When employees work alone, it’s easy to feel isolated, especially when they’re embroiled in work.
A 2021 study on more than 61,000 Microsoft employees found that remote work hurts collaboration. It reported that workers took longer to engage new employees and spent 25% less time collaborating with other teams. It also stated that they spent less time accessing new information sources.
While it might seem frightening that this happened to a company like Microsoft, you can fix it.
Make sure you communicate whenever you have the chance to in a remote environment. Schedule regular meetings, from one-on-one sessions to group conferences.
The team should determine every significant decision on projects in serious brainstorming sessions. Then, you can organize morning meetings to get updates and progress reports.
Providing and encouraging different communication channels also helps. This way, the team can look forward to a new thing rather than sessions that look repetitive.
Be Explicit About Working Hours
Another downside of remote work is not knowing when to stop working. Your employees could be working well outside of optimal hours because there’s no line between work and home. Give clear instructions regarding work periods. For example, you could set a clear 7-hour-a-day or 30-hours-a-week work rule.
Organizing projects, keeping track, and communicating with employees can be a nightmare without the right tools. Thankfully, there are remote team management tools that can help make your staff a cohesive unit. For example, look at productivity applications that track the working hours of your remote employees and improve collaboration.
Email and SMS are basic tools when you’re starting. However, applications like Microsoft Teams and Slack are better for communication and synergy. Time management is also essential. So, tools like Traqq can help you keep tabs on what your employees are doing without invading their privacy.
Track Work Progress
Staying on top of project progress is another way to keep in touch with your remote workers and boost collaboration. While you should trust them to handle the job, set progress report timelines that they should commit to. This way, you’re not always in their hair. Encourage them to submit the reports before you get to remind them.
Also, if possible, organize meetings to go over the reports. Informal check-ins are also great, but they should be done in moderation.
Encourage Social Interactions
Don’t let the random office chit-chat die entirely when you go remote. Instead, encourage informal small talks from time to time. This could be shortly before and after morning meetings before the day kicks off. Employees should also be free to throw in the odd joke now and then to spice up the mood.
Don’t encourage a system that’s strictly all work.
Your team needs all the resources it can get to work efficiently in a remote setting. So, there’s a good chance your virtual employees need tools like subscription-based software, mobile devices, laptops, and high-speed internet.
Since you’re spending less or nothing on a physical office, you can repurpose the budget to provide resources for employees.
Understand that a remote work environment is different from the traditional workspace. Your team members have a lot to sort out, from creating a work-life balance to maintaining focus. Having personal issues is no excuse to drop work, but you should see how it affects productivity.
Today, logging nine straight hours is no longer a thing. Working regular hours plus overtime causes productivity downtrends in the long run. So, allow your employees to choose the best time to work as long as they deliver within the project’s timeframe.
Set Explicit Expectations
Project deadlines are not enough for efficiency in a remote environment. As we mentioned, physical distance can take a toll on communication. Make sure you follow up on team members to confirm they understand briefs to the last detail.
It’s easy to misconstrue an instruction for something else. So, ensure the message is adequately passed across.
You should also request feedback and keep the lines of communication open to ensure everyone is on the same page.
When you change project priorities, be specific about the previous works and when you need them done.
Don’t Micromanage – Outcomes Should Matter More
Give your employees autonomy over how they execute tasks. While a general guideline is encouraged, specific nuances in style should also be allowed. You don’t want to micromanage your team members to follow a monotonous style. It’s never a good idea to impose work structures on remote employees as it could easily backfire badly.
Leading remote teams the right way produces the advertised benefits of the work-from-home model. So, bring you’re A-game and make sure you know what it takes to be in the driver’s seat.