Manage Remote Workers with these 6 Tips

If you take a quick look around at your office or work space, you’ll probably notice employees that work remotely at least part of the time. A Gallup poll conducted from 2012-2016 found the number of remotely working employees rose from 39% to 43%. Of these, nearly 1/3 did so at least 80% of the time. If you spread these numbers worldwide, that’s a huge number of individuals working away other employees. As this number rises, the task of managing these remote workers becomes a big concern. If you are in the position of managing such individuals, here are 6 tips that can make things a little easier.

Set Clear Expectations
Someone who works remotely needs to have clear guidelines for what it expected of them. This includes setting up specific hours where they are expected to be available for contact. Regular individual or group conferences can create a sense of community and accountability. Have a variety of communication tools you can use to reach out to your remote employees at any given time. Use these to keep track of their work progress and help them when needed.

Trust is a Must
A remote workforce can never function efficiently if there isn’t mutual trust between management and employees. If you’re not face to face with your employees, you need to trust that they will get their work done as promised. Ironically, many companies have found that remote workers are actually more productive than those working in a traditional office setting. Do your due diligence to find reliable workers, set up clear expectations, then give them challenges that will keep them motivated to provide their best work.

Don’t get Distracted
When you are participating in a phone call, online chat, or video conference with remote workers, avoid getting distracted by things going on around you. This time is critical for maintaining good communication with your workforce as you check the status of current projects and brainstorm about new ones. Pay attention to not just the words they’re saying, but other bodily cues that could give you insight into possible frustrations, misunderstandings, or excitement.

Keep it Interesting
Working in an office allows you to drop by and visit your coworkers and chat for a bit. You can also go to lunch together, or go for drinks after work. These opportunities are not available for remote workers, leaving them possibly feeling left out. In order to make work more interesting and fun for them, be spontaneous by doing an impromptu dance party for your next conference meeting, or have a silly gift delivered to their house. Simple things like this can really improve overall morale and a sense of comradery.

Use your Tools
There are a myriad of communications tools available for most businesses today. Finding the best ways to use these tools can create a more dynamic and effective workforce. Some of the tools you should be using are screen sharing, file sharing, instant messaging, digital whiteboards, and other applications like Slack or Basecamp. Find the tools that work best for your employees and business and use them to their fullest.