How can companies avoid problems with employees working remotely? To help companies effectively manage remote workers, we asked HR experts and business leaders this question for their best advice. From creating virtual offices to leveraging management tools, there are several tips that may help your company improve its management of remote workers.
Here are 11 ways companies can effectively manage remote workers:
- Establish Measurable Goals
- Focus on Project Management
- Create Virtual Offices
- Adopt Agile Methods
- Provide Concise SOPs
- Encourage Taking Breaks
- Provide Technical Support
- Support New Hires
- Bring Them Into the Office (Sometimes)
- Build Connections
- Leverage Management Tools
Establish Measurable Goals
Companies can avoid problems with employees working remotely by being clear with their expectations and setting up measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). Using KPIs, you can easily measure performance without having to micromanage your team, setting up a culture of trust and making your employees feel valued. With good employees, you won’t notice a negative difference in productivity between in-office and at-home work. Bad employees, however, will quickly identify themselves, providing less efficiency and lower-quality work.
Jennifer Fulmer, TechnologyAdvice
Focus on Project Management
Implement project management tools so you can keep an eye on workflow and your employees’ progress. Create milestones with goals and deadlines. This will motivate employees to eliminate distractions and focus on completing their tasks.
Haim Medine, Mark Henry Jewelry
Create Virtual Offices
Prioritizing effective communication within the organization through a platform like Slack makes employees more accessible because it creates a virtual office. Remote employees tend to take less paid time off and end up getting burned out. To avoid this, create a PTO policy as you would for a traditional work environment. Track workflow through a cloud-based project management tool and set deadlines to keep employees engaged and productive.
Rym Selmi, MiiRO
Adopt Agile Methods
Our company recently shifted to Agile project management. Built into the methodology are a number of ways we stay connected, engaged, and productive. We have daily meetings to keep everyone on the same page, each team member is empowered to make decisions about their work, and we are highly communicative throughout the day. We work in two-week sprints so that our processes are open to iteration, and every team member can provide their input in how we move forward. Agile methods are traditionally used in tech settings, but adopting parts of Agile processes that fit into our SEO marketing agency has been a success.
Meryl Schulte, Markitors
Provide Concise SOPs
Communication and setting expectations are absolutely essential to avoid problems with employees working remotely. Having very clear and detailed SOPs (Systems and Processes) that are well documented will make the work process go smoothly. It is best to let them know what is expected of them and how you will judge the success or failure of their work. It is important to give remote employees the resources they need to successfully carry out their work. I have also learned that it works much better to give remote workers measurable responsibilities and allow them to accomplish those tasks in a timely manner. Being available to answer their questions is also key.
Alexander Shute, FaithGiant
Encourage Taking Breaks
One of the ways companies can avoid problems with remote employees is to encourage employees to take breaks. It may sound counter-intuitive, but remote employees actually overwork since the line between home and office is blurred. When employees take breaks, they are actually more productive.
Fred Geranatebee, Foster Grant
Provide Technical Support
Business executives are responsible for ensuring that their teams are equipped with the tools needed to succeed. This is especially important for employees working from home in the foreseeable future because productivity depends on reliable and high-quality equipment. Organizations should also provide some budget for the tools required by remote employees and ensure that their designated workspaces are fully functional and efficient. Providing proper computer settings, laptops, desktops, and other IT support will help improve work efficiency in the long term and make them feel valued by the organization. To complete tasks effectively, it is essential that employees can quickly obtain organizational resources from their homes. In addition to managing the network security risks brought about by remote access security, organizations must also provide tools to make it easier for remote employees to access office systems and processes.
Abby Ha, WellPCB
Support New Hires
The majority of new remote hires that begin working for a company indicate that they do not feel equipped to do their jobs. This is compared to the vast majority of tenured employees who feel comfortable in their remote roles. With that in mind, to avoid dysfunction and poor productivity on remote teams, new hires need special care and attention after they start. Managers should step in and provide clarification, additional training when necessary and ensure the required resources for the job are forthcoming during the onboarding process.
Trevor Larson, Nectar
Bring Them Into the Office (Sometimes)
Make sure there’s an opportunity for remote workers to come into the office and experience your office culture firsthand. Whether that’s through an annual on-site program or a rotating hybrid model, where employees come into the office a few days a week with strategic overlap, having some connection to the physical office space will help remind your remote employees of your corporate vision and the humans behind your Slack messages.
Guna Kakulapati, CureSkin
Sometimes remote work can make employees feel detached from projects or even from the company as a whole. In order to prevent this from happening, it’s important to have small check-ins and celebrations of hard work being completed! These can serve as opportunities for employees to rebuild that connection with the tasks and the company as a whole, similar to how working in an office allowed for continuous connections to be formed!
Brandon Brown, Grin
Leverage Management Tools
One easy way to avoid clashing with distributed teams is to use technology tools that streamline the process of managing employees remotely. This software ranges from collaboration tools (such as Slack and Asana) to time tracking tools (like Time Doctor & Clockify), from project management (e.g., Trello and Github) to communication tools (like Zoom and Google Meet). If used correctly, companies can easily create an environment of transparency and accountability in the workplace. This way, leaders can communicate effectively, track and measure productivity as well as reduce conflicts with employees who work remotely. While onboarding employees who work remotely, talk about your employee management tools and policies. This will help the new hire understand how each tool helps boost productivity and prevent certain remote work-related challenges.
Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam, Time Doctor