Whether you have always had remote workers, or are adjusting to what might become the new norm, having a remote workforce presents its own set of issues. However, it is possible to maintain effective management despite having a remote workforce. Here’s how you can overcome the common challenges of a remote workforce to remain efficient, proactive and successful.
Maintain Effective Communication
Keep in mind that working remotely might prove just as challenging to workers as it is to their managers. They might feel a little lost if they are used to working under day-to-day guidance in their traditional office setting. Because of this, managers must be prepared to provide ongoing communication with their team members. It remains important for everyone on the team to know what everyone is up to and to understand what is expected of them each day. Creating easy communication such as using online chat programs like Slack can make it easy to remain in contact.
You can also get a better idea of where everyone is, while allowing co-workers to communicate as they would in the office. While email works as it always has to keep everyone informed of what’s going on, chatting provides quick and easy ways to get answers and input as required. There is also a morale factor at play that is particularly important. Having everyone logged onto a chat tool provides a social aspect to working that helps reduce feelings of isolation.
Keeping track of productivity is obviously more challenging when dealing with a remote workforce. However, it doesn’t have to be. Using remote workforce management software allows managers to keep an eye on productivity while also acting as a reminder to the team that they are still expected to maintain the same level of productivity working from home. Not all jobs have a simple tracking metric you can measure performance against. That means you need to find a way to ensure work is completed each day.
Having collaborative project management sheets allows employees to indicate when deadlines are met, while also providing an overview of each project for managers. Every job has some form of metric whether it is handing in a certain number of articles for writers, completing a certain number of calls for sales teams, or following up on tasks assigned to each team member.
While this probably falls under communication, meetings hold their own set of challenges. Choosing a platform that allows you to interact effectively is important, as you need to interact with others as close to a face-to-face meeting as possible. Look for software that allows you to:
- Share screens
- Make side notes to park questions
- Avoid talking over each other
- Allow for call-ins in the case where someone might experience technical difficulties
This makes holding video conferencing meetings less frustrating while ensuring every team member’s needs are met.
Remote work might make it easier to provide flexible scheduling options for team members. For example, if you have a global company that faces challenges in meeting client needs in different time zones, you might have a night owl on the team that would prefer to sleep in and work the night shift. If you can work with a more flexible schedule, it might make employees happier.
Some managers believe workers will never work as hard from home. This presents a basic trust issue from the very start. However, by introducing effective tracking, managers can remain on top of a team member’s performance. You can look for signs someone might not be pulling their own weight. However, it is important to start off with trust and this begins with being as transparent as possible. Set ground rules so everyone understands what is expected including:
- Hours they are expected to log on and off for work
- Expectations based on a quota, deadline, or project tasks to be completed each day
- How overtime will be tracked and paid out
- Expectations for status updates
Each job will have its own specifics so consider these details carefully when laying down the ground rules. This makes it easier to overcome the trust issues associated with the challenges of managing a remote workforce.
Performance and Career Paths
Last but not least, it is easy to overlook performance and career paths when everyone works remotely. Maintaining your regular schedule for performance reviews keeps the needs and goals of your team on track. Arranging one-on-one meetings to see how things are progressing is the perfect way to offer feedback on performance, learn about frustrations related to remote work and helping employees know they are not forgotten.
Learning how to overcome the challenges of managing a remote workforce takes some adjustment. However, many businesses might find it is a cost-effective way to remain operational and successful.
About The Author
Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.