Managing remote employees has its own unique set of challenges. Not only do you have the added hurdle of not having your team in person, but there's a certain level of freedom that comes inherently with working remotely that can make traditional management techniques fall flat.
For example, remote employees may struggle with team socialization, isolation, and other unique concerns that team managers must consider. That's why it's important to set aside key strategies for managing remote employees to meet their individual management needs.
Here, we discuss nine strategies for managing remote employees so you can keep tabs on your team without stifling creativity and productivity. We also discuss the best way to balance checking in on projects with overmanaging your employees. Without further ado, let's dive in!
Make Expectations Clear
With the inherent flexibility of working remotely, setting your expectations from the beginning is important. Ensure you're upfront with the number of virtual work hours needed, and let your team know the protocol for checking in during a project. You don't need to contact your remote employees constantly, but you should reach out during key project milestones to ensure everything is going well.
Setting clear expectations shows you trust your team members and lays the groundwork should there be any miscommunication, allowing your team to ask questions and work from a secure framework.
With remote work, you need to be sure to communicate efficiently and purposefully. A communication app like Slack can be a game changer for your business. It allows you to stay in contact with employees easily and ensures that your team can reach out with any questions no matter the time of day, making it great for remote employees in different time zones.
Since you don't run into moments to communicate as organically as you would in a physical workspace, you should set aside time during the day to check up on projects and reach out to team members about their progress. That way, they feel like their contributions matter, and you get to keep track of that big project simultaneously.
Socialize as a Team
Socializing with remote employees is not impossible; it just takes more concentrated effort than socializing in an office space. Thankfully, there are some tools you can use to make socializing that much easier, like the Slack app CultureBot, which includes a virtual watercooler prompt generator to keep the conversation moving. By maintaining active Slack channels, you're already well on your way to keeping your remote employees engaged and well-managed.
There's a fine balance between too many and too few meetings, especially with remote team members. Keeping weekly check-ins and discussing new projects is important, but don't go overboard on meeting times. You need to ensure your team members have time to work on projects, after all.
Try and schedule meetings a couple of times a week to check up on projects and individual goals, but leave your employees plenty of free time to work on those projects and plans!
Trust Your Team Members
It’s important to encourage trust and transparency with your remote employees. However, many managers make the mistake of over-managing remote team members simply because they’re not in the office.
Trusting that your team members are doing their best and working on projects is important, and rewarding them for accomplishing these work-related goals is important. Having a manager check on them every hour increases agitation and slows turnovers. It's best to take a step back and trust that your team members are working on their projects as long as key deadlines and project turnarounds get met.
Onboarding is like handing your employees the toolkit they need to succeed. Skipping onboarding can lead to frustrated, burned-out employees, especially with remote jobs where maintaining a work-life balance is difficult. Take the time to onboard your remote employees, and give them a longer time to adjust to the work than you might for an in-person employee. This added onboarding can help increase their productivity and ensure they're well-prepared for working remotely.
Take Advantage of Tools
Working remotely requires a whole range of tools, from the simplicity of Slack to the convenience of Google Drive. Make sure to employ these tools during your work day to make communicating with your remote team much easier. Plenty of apps can streamline your day-to-day activities in the office, especially with a remote team.
Task management apps like ClickUp and Trello can help keep projects on course, while socialization apps like CultureBot can streamline office communication and HR tasks. Work to find a good balance between using these tools and communicating with your team directly, and you’ll be well on your way to managing your remote employees.
Many employees value working remotely for the added flexibility. That's why it's important to maintain this flexibility in your workplace. Remote team members are often working from home, so be aware they may need a little more time transitioning between tasks. Be open to parents picking up their kids or employees taking time to visit the doctor. These short breaks pay off in the long run with increased employee wellness, lower burnout, and overall increased loyalty.
Aim for Output
Finally, when managing remote employees, aim for an end goal rather than checking in on every step of a project. If your employees turn their assignments in on time, keep up reasonable levels of communication, and seem overall satisfied with their workload, allow them the freedom to work on projects on their time clock. You should aim for the final product rather than nit-picking the steps. This shows you trust your employees and helps streamline the entire work process.
Check out our other blogs if you want more ways to manage remote employees. We cover various topics, from HR management to employee satisfaction, to help propel your virtual team to success. And, of course, be sure to check out CultureBot’s features to see if it’s a good fit for your remote team.