Are you looking to improve your skills in managing remote employees? You may not realize it, but managing remote employees has no more complexity than managing employees in the office; the only difference is the distance of separation and, in some cases, a time difference.
Let’s demystify how we may turn you into a remote employee’s champion in five steps:
Step 1: Understand the Challenges of Working From Home
For a person to best manage remote employees, there is a need to understand the challenges that come with working from home. Unlike working from the office, working from home comes with challenges such as:
- Lack of face time with the other employees and the managers or supervisors
- Video fatigue that comes along with endless Zoom meetings
- Technology breakdowns and bottlenecks during video conferences due to variable internet connections
- Many distractions that come along with working from home like pets, kids and spouses
Assuming that these factors are not repeatedly decreasing the productivity of given employees, then patience is the key. These challenges are a common feature while working from home, though if these challenges persist, then there is a need to handle the situations with empathy along with authority.
Step 2: Set Clear, Measurable, And Concise Standards
The best way to manage employees is to set standards and expectations that are clear and achievable regardless of work location.
These provide the guidance and targets that the employees have to work with, such that they know what is expected of them, regardless of how tough the transition may be.
These standards need to be set, clearly documented, and understood by both you and your employees. If some employees have not met the required standards, first assess their reasons for not meeting the standards, and whether or not the reasons justify the problem or not. If they are legitimate, then patience is key, as the shift to remote work has been challenging for everyone.
Brainstorming with other managers or using your creativity may help you maneuver through the challenges to ensure that the standards are met. However, if the standards are not met on an ongoing basis, then the company’s disciplinary framework can be enforced to ensure that your employees are meeting goals.
Step 3: Identify And Provide the Right Tools
It’s also important to ensure that your employees are provided with the right tools to work, especially when they’re working remotely. Working remotely requires capital investment in both hardware and software. Employee time is a high value resource, and you don’t want them to be less productive as a result of inferior equipment and faulty networks. The following are some potential requirements for employees to work effectively:
- Access to apps and software programs required for their jobs
- A good, stable network (internet and phone, as appropriate)
- Presentation tools (as needed)
- Proper lighting (this can be an inexpensive way to boost self-esteem for some employees on video calls)
- Clear understanding (whether a list, or a tool) of targets and expectations
- User manuals for software and other processes (as applicable)
- Mail supplies and stationery (as needed)
Once you’ve ensured that your employees have the tools and technology to do their jobs remotely, and know what’s expected of them, you’ll also want to check in on both the technology and objectives over time. This helps you make sure that the objectives are met and that the technology you and your employees are using allows your employees to work optimally.
You may find over time that there is a need to strategize and ensure that better machines, software, tools or guidance are given to the employees.
Step 4: Trust Your Employees
This is maybe the most challenging, abstract part but an extremely important one. You hired these employees in the first place and trust is intuitively a part of the hiring process.
Letting the remote employees know that you inherently trust them goes a long way in giving them the bases by which to perform at a high level. Along with this, avoiding micromanaging is a good way to show the employees that you realize they are pros and should be treated as such.
Step 5: Be There for Your Team
Most importantly, managers that are predictable, accessible, and dependable go a long way in giving the remote employees the mentality that – while they are somewhat on their own – they are heard, supported and valued.
Regular check-ins become critical when you aren’t sharing an office with your team, and making sure that you are checking in on both their productivity and their mental health. Having a good relationship with your employees will go a long way toward supporting them, regardless of whether they are working in the office or remotely.