How to Manage Remote Employees
By Emma Nelson
Over the years, advances in technology and modes of communication have led to an increase in companies’ ability to hire remote employees. Working from home, a coffee shop, or a different branch of the company has become increasingly prevalent, as employees are able to communicate via new technology. This phenomenon has been incredibly useful to companies all over the world, because it is now easier to find skilled employees of various backgrounds that enhance the company’s diversity and skills, without limiting the search to the company’s immediate area.
However, it can be difficult to manage remote employees. Communication is essential when it comes to the workplace, and companies must have the skills necessary to manage employees who are working out of the office and potentially in different time zones. Here are some tips to avoid the challenges that may appear while working with remote employees.
Stay open to new technology
While technology is helped facilitate the growth of remote employment, it has also created new ways to manage these employees from the workplace. By using programs such as Skype, Zoom, and GoToMeeting, remote employees can video chat in groups, share their screens, and instant message other employees. There are endless programs to help employees to stay connected throughout the day, and staying open to all options will help better manage the company.
Organization is critical when managing employees in different work spaces. It is important to make sure that everyone is on task and aware of projects, meetings, etc. Use a communal calendar or project management tool that all employees can access, to clearly lay out the tasks, meetings, projects, and deadlines for the week, month, and year.
Communicate on a regular basis
It is important to make sure that you don’t go days or even hours without communicating with your remote employees. Although they are remote, they can still be kept in the loop. Make sure that you are staying in touch by checking in, sending out emails, and asking questions throughout the work day or week. This is key to ensuring that your employees are staying on task and are aware of important updates, tasks, and projects.
Be sure to establish guidelines in order to keep employees on track. Make sure that emails are answered on a regular basis, hours are logged regularly, and meeting invitations are sent and accepted according to schedule. By establishing a set of guidelines for employees to follow, information will be sent and received promptly to further increase productivity.
Consider weekly reports
A good way to offer feedback to employees about their remote productivity is to send a weekly report. Make things simple by referring to your calendar or project management tool to compile a list of what was completed, what remains outstanding, and what is coming up for the following week. Weekly reports make it easy to have conversations about productivity, because employees can directly refer to the report. They also help you spot challenges sooner – if you notice a trend of work going unfinished or deadlines being dropped, you can have productive conversations to discover what obstacles are standing in employees’ way and what resources or processes need to be implemented so that the work gets completed on time.
Make sure you are readily available
If you’re not going to be sharing the same workspace as your employees, it is important to make sure that you are still readily available to them. Avoid cancelling meetings or video chats, and stay active on email throughout the work day. This way, remote employees will still be in contact and know that they are part of and have access to the team, even if they are working remotely.
Still be sure to meet face-to-face
While there are many benefits to having remote employees, it is still important that you make time to meet with them face-to-face. Whenever possible, set aside days to make visits or meet at a convenient location for both parties. Even if employees are located in other states or countries, many employers will hold company meetings, sales summits, or even holidays parties to give employees a reason to and support for travel to the main office. In-person interaction will ensure that the remote employee feels like part of the team.