In this era of the internet, many companies are outsourcing jobs to employees who work from different places around the world. This allows firms and businesses greater access to a wider range of talents; output quality-focused work environments; no office politics, bullying or sexual harassment, and low overheads compared to employees working in office cubicles.
Aside from these, working from home is also something that hs been gaining popularity. For instance, in the gig economy, employees can earn decent incomes from working on short-term contracts for different companies in the comfort of their homes but without the stress of traffic, dress codes or rigid schedules, or difficult personalities in an office environment.
While there is surprisingly little difference between managing in-office and remote employees, there are still some aspects that need to be considered. This article summarizes the most practical tips that can help companies manage their employees who work from other locations.
Ensure Clear and Efficient Communication Channels
For companies that allow remote working options to employees, this often requires managers to trust workers to manage their own work. One fear is that communication lines may fall by the wayside. This is why it is crucial that managers of remote workforces must maintain clear and effective communication channels.
Situations can be trickier for managers of large companies that manage more numbers of remote workers. In this scenario, it is crucial that communication channels are open yet secure and dependable enough to allow everyone in the team to exchange ideas quickly and effectively. To disruptors such as civil disorder, accidents, natural calamities, and power or internet outages, the manager should establish alternative lines of communication.
Moreover, managers should ensure that new employees understand communication guidelines such as:
- How the company and the team prefer to communicate;
- The expected turnaround time for emails;
- Information that should be relayed;
- Communication formats and etiquette; and
- The best time to send messages.
2. Help Everyone Understand Key Processes
Everyone in the team should understand the entire work process. For instance, if an employee hits a wall in their work and needs to ask a question on how they can progress, this can be addressed simply by talking to the right person if they are working in-house.
However, things get a bit tricky when the employee is working remotely. The employee needs to send a message either through email or a communication channel such as Trello or Slack. Then they have to wait for a response.
If the response takes all day, then this can affect production. It is a good idea to have the work process well documented and accessible by all team members.
Before a worker can send a question, they can read through the documentation and understands what they need to do.
3. Promote Interpersonal Communication
Work can become boring if it is all about sitting in front of a computer all day, or everything is about metrics and output. When working with remote employees, it pays to make the entire remote working experience enjoyable. One proven way of keeping employees happy is allowing free communication between employees on a regular and unofficial basis.
One benefit is that it allows employees to get to know each other. Their motivation increases, and this, in turn, makes them more willing to work for the company as they feel part of a bigger family. This, in turn, can help and increase production.
You can promote interpersonal communication between employees by creating a video conference where employees can interact with each other. At the same time, there are other cheaper options such as setting up different chat channels in Slack.
4. Organize Physical Meetings
As much as video conferencing is a great way to bring team members together, you can take things a step further and organize physical meetings. Team members who have already interacted with each other through electronic communication channels will be surprised at how familiar everyone is when they finally meet in person.
This is a great opportunity for people to build even better and stronger relationships. Moreover, it is also a great way for new employees to be introduced to the team.
5. Encourage One-on-One Communication
While creating an avenue for team members to communicate with each other is great, it is also crucial for management to take the time to talk on a one-on-one basis to individual employees.
This creates an opportunity for them to talk about issues or ask questions they may hesitate to ask without a measure of privacy.
Furthermore, as a manager, you are able to judge the job satisfaction of the employees during a one-on-one exchange. You can also provide mentorship, which is a great way to boost employee retention.
Managing employees that work from remote positions comes with its fair share of challenges. For one, communication is not as simple, straightforward, or as fast as with an in-house team. However, with the right strategies in place, it is possible to maintain production levels and even exceed them. The tips summarized here can help keep employees motivated when they are working from home.