One of the few silver linings of the pandemic is that it led to businesses big and small finally recognizing all the advantages associated with remote work. Thanks to that, even as lockdown restrictions are lifted around the world, many companies have decided to stick with remote work, or adopt a hybrid approach.
That said, while remote work is better in many ways, it also creates some unique challenges for managers. If your company is adopting this system in the long term, here’s how you can go about managing your remote team in a way that will help your business succeed.
1 – Clear expectations
One of the challenges of remote work is giving employees the tools they need to make decisions on how to organize their time and focus on their work. They won’t have the clear structure that comes with spending 8 hours in the office, which will improve their flexibility but can harm their capacity for consistent output.
The solution is to make your expectations clear for your team, figure out how to measure their performance, and give them key goals to achieve. A good workforce management platform can facilitate and automate many of these processes, and having one is nearly mandatory for any team composed of more than three or four people.
2 – Training resources
Remote workers can’t just tap a co-worker on the shoulder to ask questions and get demonstrations on how to perform different tasks. Make sure you make all the information your workers will need available for them, be it through an employee guide, an online learning platform, or even a simple series of onboarding emails with links to relevant online guides.
It can also be useful to assign a veteran employee to mentor and guide a newcomer through email and video calls.
3 – Two-channel communication
Being unable to reach an employee or confirm that they have gotten your message can cause serious issues, especially when dealing with time-sensitive problems. So make sure that on top of communicating through email, your team also has a second communication channel they can use for emergencies — preferably an instant messaging service. The second channel can also be used whenever there is an issue with the primary channel.
Having two channels also helps to signal to employees which messages they should answer right away and which can wait until their next work session. Working from home can lead to employees feeling like they’re never off the clock, and separating priority and non-priority messages can help with that issue.
4 – Look for signs of distress
It is much harder to tell when an employee is distressed or overworked when your primary form of contact with them happens via text, so make sure you’re keeping an eye out for potential signs of distress. Changes in online behavior, total output, or work quality can all be the results of an employee who’s close to burning out or who is struggling with some personal problem.
5 – Clear communication
Take the time to make sure any requests and assignments you give out to workers are as clear as possible and encourage them to ask questions if they have any. Written communication isn’t the most effective at conveying tone and intent, and any time your employee spends trying to puzzle out what you want is time they could have spent being productive.