Tactics for Managing Remote Employees Through Effective Communication
The world of business is changing, and there has been a seismic shift towards the concept of using remote employees. Whether assembling a whole team of off-site workers or using this recruitment technique to plug a few gaps, the potential benefits are plentiful. However, this approach does throw up some challenges when it comes to managing remote employees, which is why the need for effective communication is necessary.
Managing a team without face-to-face interactions may seem like a daunting task, but as long as you’re equipped with a winning plan of action, it can be a lot easier than you might think. Here’s all you need to know in order to get the best out of your team.
Managing Remote Employees: The Human Aspect
If you are ever going to turn this modern approach to staff management into a success, you must first learn to appreciate that remote-employees need to be valued as people. Strategies need to be mutually beneficial for employers and employees alike. Several steps can be taken to make it happen.
Embrace the flexibility
The flexibility offered by remote work is one of the main incentives for employees to choose this type of employment, which is why showing an appreciation for this factor is so vital. Surveys show that remote workers are usually more productive than their on-site counterparts. Whether this is due to the lack of commuting or other factors is irrelevant. Ultimately, you have no reason to doubt their work ethic.
Those hours are unlikely to come exclusively during office hours, but that should not worry you. As long as the work is completed, you should have no problems. With this in mind, you should also encourage remote workers to employ a positive work-life balance.
Encourage a sense of inclusion
One of the great things about efficient remote workers is that you do not need to micromanage them. Nonetheless, it’s important to ‘touch base’ with them on a semi-frequent basis. Otherwise, they will start to feel like the forgotten workers, which can lead to a host of problems. Video calls are a great way to retain a good level of communication. Meanwhile, if you have remote workers that live relatively close to the office, inviting them for face-to-face meetings is vital.
The concept of making remote workers feel included can extend to allowing them to enjoy staff perks such as health insurance, gym memberships, and other items. It’ll certainly promote a sense of equality.
Allow them to grow
Treating remote workers in the same way as you would treat on-site staff is vital. This means thinking about long-term situations as well as the immediate requirements. Many businesses fall into the trap of hiring remote workers with the intention of restricting them to that single role for the duration of their employment. Sadly, this can reduce the motivation to work harder as there is nothing to work for. It also damages the feeling of being valued.
It should be clearly communicated that there is an opportunity for growth and promotion. Meanwhile, you should also be prepared to invest in training and other developmental steps. You wouldn’t allow on-site staff to get left behind, so don’t let the remote ones do it either.
A Tech Checklist for Success
An appreciation of the human factor of managing remote workers is essential for success. However, it’s equally crucial to put the right tech in place. After all, the entire relationship shared between company and employee is heavily reliant on modern tech features. If your business lacks them, it won’t only be bad workers that blame their tools.
The following checklist should be used to ensure that you have invested in the right tools and equipment to allow for easy communication and smooth collaboration.
1. Smartphones and computers
Most remote workers are happy to use their own devices, so you probably won’t need to worry too much about these issues – especially as iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux devices all facilitate great communication with the other device types.
Nevertheless, you will want to confirm that all remote workers are equipped with the hardware needed to complete their work in a productive fashion.
2. Collaboration and chat capabilities
Software that lets workers instant messaging and communication over an online collection should be made available. Whether they use their smartphones or computers, this is crucial for real-time collaboration that removes the threat of delays.
The best messaging software should provide the option to conduct one-to-one private conversations as well as group messages.
3. Video calling and conferencing
Instant messaging is great, but some tasks require face-to-face interactions. When you can’t be in the same venue, video calls and conferencing offer a fantastic substitute. Ideally, you’ll want software that allows for group conversations as well as one-on-one.
Body language plays a huge role in communication, as well as the ongoing professional relationships you share. Do not underestimate it.
4. Project management software
Project management systems build upon the principles of collaboration but detail each task of a project along with who they are assigned to and their current status. This encourages smooth communication between colleagues as well as the employer-employee bond.
Transparency is crucial when working with remote-based staff, and project management software will help you achieve it.
5. Screen sharing
Modern collaboration tech features have evolved at a rapid rate. Screen sharing now allows you to simultaneously access the screen or even take over it from your end. This can make it far easier to overcome any hiccups that may be experienced from either end.
Enabling the remote experts to take over your screen is equally crucial, and will open the door to great communication and productivity.
6. Automated onboarding software
Welcoming a new remote-based employee into the team can be very challenging, particularly as there is a need to introduce them to your way of working. An automated onboarding system that includes videos and interactive content that enables them to get started is hugely useful.
When new remote freelancers feel included and are ready to work from day one, it sets the perfect platform to build upon.
7. HR contacts
In addition to facilitating smooth communication with yourself as well as their team members, you should look to implement an easy contact system that enables remote employees (and on-site staff) to contact the HR department with any issues they may experience.
The last thing you need is for them to underperform or resign due to an issue that could have been solved through communication with the HR team. VOIP systems are great for this.
8. Recognition and rewards systems
Tech allows for automated reporting and analysis. These analytical tools can be utilized to identify when a remote employee has achieved something special or gone the extra mile. With notifications (either to you or the HR team), sending a note of recognition can make a big impact.
Alternatively, financial rewards and staff perks can be used to incentive and motivate remote workers just as they would be used for on-site staff.
Many of the above features will be cloud-based systems that use SaaS and other modern facilities to provide a better UX and cause reduced strain on the user’s systems. Naturally, then, you’ll need to ensure that data storage and encryption facilities are at the desired standard too.
Given that most of the tech equipment and software are closely linked, building a communication network that satisfies the needs of your remote workers is a lot easier than you first thought – especially if you have the support of a telecoms service that provides VOIP, reporting, team management, and cloud-based connections all in one.
Actionable Tactics to Manage Remote Employees
While using the right technologies and showing a high degree of human understanding will serve you well, it’s equally crucial to establish a clear plan that can be taken to manage those employees throughout the short, mid, and long-term situation.
Here are some of the strategies that can be utilized for optimal results.
- Check-in with them regularly by providing a weekly update, a monthly one-to-one session, and regular appraisals on their productivity. Use this as an opportunity to build a personal relationship that focuses on their work rather than generic management speak for optimal results.
- Encourage video calls when possible. Both parties (or more if using group conferencing) gain far more meaningful insights through body language and the non-verbal communication links. It’s also a great way to put a face to the name and make those business bonds feel real rather than talking to a random person behind another screen.
- Host semi-frequent on-site meetings that allow remote workers and on-site staff to mix. This can be a team away day, a leisurely activity, or a promotional day for the business. The type of company you run and the size of the operation will influence the possibilities, but great things are possible.
- Send physical products to them during the onboarding process, such as letterheads and stationery. You can take this to the next level with greetings cards on their birthday or during the festive season. The physical items make a far bigger impact than e-cards, although you may want to take your eco-friendly elements into account.
- Use virtual team bonding tasks to encourage a stronger team atmosphere. This can cover the remote worker-to-remote worker bond as well as the relationships between remote workers and the on-site staff. Interaction brings the team closer together, even when it’s handled in a digital arena.
- Train remote workers through distance learning. This can be completed through the use of in-house interactive packages, qualifications provided by online bodies, or a combination of the two. Aside from sculpting them into the employees you want them to be, it makes a clear display that you have long-term plans for them. This sense of stability can have a huge impact on their mindset.
- Launch a dedicated email address or group chat hangout for remote workers to provide feedback. This can range from the things they love to the items that require updating and attention. An anonymous service can be particularly effective at this time.
- Host regular conferences exclusively for remote workers so that they can discuss their concerns with the board of directors and other key members of senior management. This gives them a voice and shows that their well being and best interests are on the company’s list of priorities. It builds upon the success of the email idea and takes it to another level.
- Train and encourage employees to support each other and build that team atmosphere that’s sure to promote a better atmosphere for on-site and off-site staff members alike. A team that works together succeeds together while positivity begets positivity. Utilize these factors to their full potential.
- Enable remote workers to take on extra responsibilities by taking on senior roles or becoming team leaders of specific projects. As long as the right project management systems and communication tools are in place, there’s no limit to what can be achieved. They can manage the project with the same degree of professionalism as on-site staff and may even clock in more hours.
There are plenty of additional steps that you can take in hopes of encouraging improved team atmospheres and productivity levels. You know how to sell the USPs of your business, and promoting a sense of pride in the business through improved staff management techniques can only work wonders for the venture.
Remote employees are a growing part of the modern workforce, and you cannot afford to ignore their presence any longer. Their impact on productivity and the ability to facilitate expansion without relocating to bigger premises is incredible. However, strong communication will be essential if you wish to unlock the full potential.
A winning strategy should revolve around using the right technologies, tactics, and interpretations to ensure that everyone (including on-site staff) is on the right page. To learn more about implementing the right tech solutions for success, click here or contact 888-205-7520 to arrange a free consultation today.