Make the remote-work experience productive and engaging for both employees and your company! It’s the time for managers to change their approach to remote work!

With hybrid workplaces emerging as a result of the pandemic times, managers find themselves responsible for supervising remote employees. Even though remote work is beneficial for both you and your employees, it can present a few challenges for managers and team leaders. Managing virtual teams is not that easy, it’s something that needs to be done in a specific way.

Here’re some challenges of managing remote employees:

The typical work arrangement & remote work differs in many aspects! Remote work calls for different skills from the team like better time management, the capability to follow written procedures, and a flair to communicate using information and new gen communication technologies effectively.

It so happens that both the employees and the manager may not have remote work experience and assume that what worked in the office can be taken as such and transferred to the remote environment. Managers may need to know how to effectively hire and manage remote employees. Ifthey cansearch out, hire and onboard employees effectively they will not struggle in a remote setting.

Check out the top tips for managing remote employees to ensure productivity from Tuner Labs:

Be clear in your expectations

Managing remote teams becomes simplified if you as a manager ensure that your remote employees know exactly what your expectations are! You can communicate how often you want them to check in or they should track their time. The updates from each team member can be on a daily basis or a weekly briefing. This way you can make sure you’re in sync with your remote team.

Engage as often as possible

One of the best strategies for managing remote teams is to maintain constant interaction with your remote employees at least once a day. You should try to engage directly with remote employees either through an email, instant message, phone call or video chat so that they do not feel left out and become disengaged from their work. With consistent interaction with each team member, you can ensure they feel motivated, included and valued. This may lead to good performance and high turnover.

Use technology to overcome geographic restrictions

Nowadays there exist many sophisticated technologies & tools to manage remote employees. Chat and team collaboration tools (e.g., Slack), project management systems, screen sharing tools, video conferencing software, time tracking apps and more can be used to manage a remote workforce.

Whatever technology you use to enable remote work can also be used to build a community. Encourage more face-to-face interactions and create spaces like separate instant messenger channels or online forums for employees to interact easily. You can also hold virtual celebrations of events for your team of remote employees.

Provide the right resources for your team

Give proper training and resources to your remote employees. Equip them with new laptops, better WiFi, and new technology like headsets and webcams. This can make it easy for you to manage your remote workforce. Set up the same access to things utilised by onsite employees for your remote employees also like:

  • Policy and procedure manuals
  • Presentation templates and supplies
  • Mail supplies and stationery
  • Software programs
  • Corporate credit card

Document your communication

Remote employees should have something for reference and it is crucial that you document your communication process. You can outline what kinds of questions or issues necessitate a group meeting or video call instead of a quick message or email. You can provide details about timing and responsiveness like how soon you expect a response to an email during working hours.

Schedule regular team meetings

Regular group meetings, virtual team building activities & live virtual events helps to foster a sense of unity amongst remote employees. Be it your workforce is partially or fully remote, employees bond over these meetings. As they get to know each other, they connect and feel more inclined to work as a team.

Not just that, team meetings are an open platform for remote workers to contribute their ideas and clear up miscommunications regarding project details, deadlines and expectations.

Be mindful of Zoom fatigue

Burnout or tiredness caused by an overdose of video meetings is called Zoom fatigue. Alternate communication methods like email, messaging apps, phone calls etc. can be used for supporting transition time between meetings. Apart from that, making some social meetings optional can help combat Zoom fatigue.

Make transparency a part of team culture

Be a role model to your employees by being open and honest and they will naturally follow your example of how to behave in the workplace. This way it’s easier to build trust with all employees and make sure they feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns. You should make sure that your transparency extends equally to all team members. 

Build a strong rapport

When running a remote office, it’s always good if you can get to know your remote employees in the same way as your in-office employees. You can develop a personal connection by taking interest in their hobbies, interests and career aspirations. Try to always set aside a few minutes for small talk at the beginning or end of your meetings and help them feel more comfortable with you. Recent studies have found that employees who have friendships and personal connections at work are more engaged and motivated to work.

Have regular one-on-one conversations

For effectively managing remote teams, regular one-on-one conversations are a must! These meetings are highly important as it so happens that remote employees often miss small updates and ad hoc meetings that happen throughout the day that you have with your in-office employees. Try to schedule one-on-one meetings on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for at least half an hour with each of your remote employees. You can give feedback or employees can raise concerns, ask questions or share their ideas in these meetings.

Don’t micromanage

Remote employees love the autonomy that comes with their work! While managing remote employees, it’s easy to assume they’re not working properly. Micromanaging behaviour like an overdose of communications and continuously asking for progress reports does not go well with remote employees. Do settle for subtle queries.

Focus on goals and results rather than visible activity and hours worked. As long as remote employees are getting their work done well and on time, their work style may be immaterial. Simultaneously, ensure that remote employees aren’t taking advantage of their autonomy by wasting time and ignoring their workload before it affects team productivity.

Include remote employees

Do not exclude remote employees out of meaningful discussions about company objectives, visions and/or plans. When you or one of your team members share crucial information, be sure to pass along the message to your remote employees as well. Send employee satisfaction surveys periodically to get feedback on how remote employees feel about their work environment.

Increase recognition

Try motivating your remote employee achievers with effective recognition like public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities and low-cost perks. This serves as a strong signal for others to emulate & follow. You can take this opportunity to provide development opportunities to employees who normally do not perform well

Encourage innovation

Employee engagement and organisational success depends much on innovation and risk-taking. Managers can provide opportunities for innovation or process improvements for their remote employees.

These are only a few tips for managing virtual employees. Remote workers can be just as productive as in-office employees, remember you just have to motivate them and set them up for success!