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Learn how to manage your remote team the right way

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Data from Gartner shows that more companies continue to embrace remote work due to its many benefits.

Managers agree that the reduced cost is ideal for business, and workers welcome the ease and comfort. In addition, both parties recognize the impact of remote work on productivity.

Given the increasing popularity of remote work, you’re undoubtedly considering the shift. After all, workers will likely choose an employer that offers remote work over one that doesn’t.

That said, managing remote workers can be challenging for managers who are used to the traditional workplace. For example, a Society for Human Resource Management survey reported that 70% of employers experienced challenges adapting to remote work after the pandemic.

The lack of face-to-face meetings and in-person supervision may seem like a potential cause for reduced productivity. However, that’s not the case. Another Gartner study found that remote workers are 5% more likely to be productive than full-time office workers.

The main issue is knowing the right way to manage employees who work from home. Once employers find the proper remote work management formula, they can enjoy the full benefits of the WFH model.

This article covers the best management practices for any remote team.

Understand and Embrace the Challenges of Remote Work

A remote work environment lacks the elements of a traditional office space that supervisors understand how to use. Physical workplace encounters allow managers to track moods, as they can read facial cues and body language. This way, it’s easy to address frustrations and provide guidance.

Moreover, workers can’t easily slide over to the next cubicle for an update or reach out to a supervisor for a quick question.

These challenges may seem like threats to communication and remote team management. However, you can change the dynamic of your remote workplace to address these issues. The important thing is understanding the problem.

Provide the Right Tools

Once you’ve identified your significant concerns, the next step involves providing the right tools and resources to address the issue. For example, you need tools for communication, project management, and time tracking. You should also browse a few recommended intranet solutions to securely share information among employees.

Other helpful remote work resources can replace in-office tools. For instance, you can now use whiteboarding tools during virtual presentations and brainstorming sessions. Similarly, you can also invest in a staff holiday booking system to make it easier to apply, manage and track leave requests even for remote teams.

Make sure the tools you provide are well-suited to your company’s needs. Also, train your staff adequately on using the applications and web platforms, and go for easy-to-use solutions.

Build an Ideal Remote Work Culture

Transitioning to a virtual workplace doesn’t mean you have to give up everything that makes you a family of workers. On the contrary, you must maintain that office camaraderie even when team members won’t get to share regular handshakes.

Encourage impromptu calls, meetings, and virtual get-togethers. Also, make sure you try to maintain your policies regarding staff support, team collaboration, and project execution.

Since you’re now in a remote workplace, you have to re-adjust different moving parts to preserve your company’s identity and culture. For example, choose which communication channel to host daily briefs, just like choosing a conference room or meeting space.

Track Employee Productivity

One of the most significant advantages of remote work is productivity. According to a Stanford study that surveyed 16,000 workers in a Chinese firm, employees working from home posted a 13% increase in productivity.

Another study by ConnectSolution, long before the pandemic, reported that 77% of respondents were more productive after switching to remote work.

One of the reasons for the increased productivity is employee tracking. With today’s employee tracking software applications, managers can measure staff efficiency by looking at how much time each worker executes specific tasks.

With this data, you know which tasks to assign to different workers based on their skill set. This way, you’re ensuring efficient work distribution and prompt project delivery.

You’ll also be able to identify areas for improvement and determine the suitable courses and training an employee requires to upskill.

Encourage Communication

Communication is a critical aspect of team collaboration. Unfortunately, it can be negatively affected by remote work environments.

Working from home comes with the risk of employees working in silos. For example, researchers analyzed the work habits of 61,000 US Microsoft employees and found that workers communicated less frequently when working from the office.

That said, you can turn things around by employing the right communication policies. Always encourage team members to reach out to colleagues whenever they need help. As a leader, you must make yourself available to field questions and concerns.

If you can’t promise around-the-clock availability, set up communication channels where team members can always reach a supervisor.

Also, schedule meetings and host get-togethers where team members can share experiences and bond over teleconferencing.

Avoid Micromanagement

Micromanagement kills the workplace spirit, reduces morale, and breaks trust. You have to resist the urge to constantly check in on your team to confirm that they’re on the job.

People feel uncomfortable when supervisors constantly look over their shoulders. The feeling of suspicion breeds a sense of mistrust and throws them off their game. In the end, you’ll be reducing the worker’s ability to do their jobs well.

According to a study published in the International Journal of Economics, Business and Management Research, 80% of respondents believed micromanagement is a deterrent in the workplace and affects productivity. While the study focused on female managers, other researchers have found similar results across the board.

Giving workers autonomy will build a sense of trust and commitment. It will show your team members that you’re confident in their ability to get the job done. However, you should encourage them to reach out whenever they’re confused.

Instead of always bugging your workers about task progress and disrupting workflow, you can use employee monitoring systems. This way, you can always see their work progress without having to send emails or Slack DMs every 5 minutes.

That said, make sure your employees are on board with the tracking system and comfortable with the data you collect.

Check In on Your Team

You can check in on your team members from time to time for updates. Regular check-ins also help you confirm whether a worker requires assistance. This way, you can identify issues that they may be struggling to resolve.

That said, you don’t want to come off as a micromanager. So, it would be an excellent idea to reasonably limit your check-ins. For example, reaching out for updates about a particular job twice a day might communicate mistrust and suspicion.

Find Obstacles to Productivity and Remove them

Some work processes like meetings and administrative tasks obstruct the workflow and reduce productivity. In addition, these activities and engagements may frustrate workers, kill their motivation, and hurt overall work performance.

You can use data gathered from your employee monitoring solution to find these time wasters and get rid of them. You should also speak to your team members to identify routine tasks and work activities that eat into their productive hours.

Organize Surveys to Collect Regular Feedback

Reaching out to remote team members about your work process is a way to address concerns and deal with mounting frustrations. For example, you can send out anonymous surveys to get their thoughts on your remote team management policies. Try to understand what they’ll be comfortable with and the systems that will boost their engagement and performance.

Set Clear Expectations

Always communicate the expected outcome of any project before it starts. In addition, you should let your workers know the approach for each task and everything in between.

Set dates for project briefs, define deadlines and communicate expected output. This way, they’re motivated to get things done the right way.

Guarantee Accurate Payroll

Many workers rely on their paychecks to get by. If your employees are victims of inaccurate and delayed salaries, their productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction will take a hit.

You’ll start failing to meet client expectations if your workers are no longer productive, and you will likely suffer high employee turnover.

So, ensure you keep your books in order and pay workers in time. You can use a time tracking tool to calculate billable hours and automatically generate payment invoices.

Wrapping Up

While remote work comes with challenges, its benefits are worth putting in the extra work. Remember to always appreciate your workers, reach out occasionally, and trust them to get the job done even if you can’t supervise them in person.

April 25, 2022
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