14 tips to effectively Manage a Remote Workforce
Learn tips to better manage your team and keep morale up, even if they are thousands of miles away.
Working and doing business has long shifted from all employees being in one office, to remote work and even employees in different parts of the world. Thanks to technology, people are now able to work anywhere. For a business, working remotely can also more beneficial as it can mean a reduced overhead cost. Nowadays, many small businesses choose to outsource their tasks to a remote workforce so they can continue focusing on the most important parts of their business.
So, how do you ensure that productivity and quality results are still achieved even with a remote workforce? It’s similar to how you would handle personnel management in your headquarters, but with people who are working remotely, it can be a little more complicated.
As a global HR team, NNRoad can handle all technical paperwork so you can focus on managing your remote workforce. We take care of all the details to ensure that you are able to manage your employees and ensure they complete their work for the betterment of your whole company.
As NNRoad works with companies that have remote teams, we have some insights we’d like to share on how you can effectively manage those who are working away from you physically.
Who is a Remote Employee?
A remote worker or a virtual employee includes a large bracket of categories ranging from the employees who work full-time from home for several days a week to those employees who work in a completely different geographical location from you. It could even cover a whole company or business that doesn’t have an actual physical office headquarters.
Throughout the years, virtual working has become very popular as it is more flexible and it gives the employees more options. Because of this, remote work became the primary way to get talented individuals to work for a company especially in today’s situation wherein a pool of available individuals, only a few are genuinely talented. Also, remote work can cut a lot of costs and expenditures on the employer’s side as it allows work to be done without the need for office space.
Making Virtual Teams Work
An ongoing issue about remote work is the level of productivity it will create. When working from home or remotely there may be a lot of distractions. On the flip side, remote workers often take shorter breaks, work longer hours, and are less likely to quit. The flexibility of remote work is a key factor in employee retention for many companies, but employers and employees can run into issues with remote work.
14 Tips to effectively manage your remote employees
To effectively manage a remote workforce set up to run smoothly, you need to set rules for yourself and the administration of your company. This is to ensure that even if the employees are working in remote locations, productivity is still high and what is expected of them is clear.
1. Make everyone feel that they are part of the team
One issue that most companies face when they have remote workers is that most of these employees feel unmotivated because they are disconnected from the rest of the team. This is the first thing that you should look into when you have a remote workforce. There should be activities that will help promote a sense of community and camaraderie. This can be done through daily calls or short conversations on chat. It is important to let them know what’s going on with the company and their work so they feel connected to the company and other employees. Even if it seems like too much, your remote employees will appreciate the effort you put in.
2. Schedule time for regular communication
It’s easy to forget about the people who you don’t see physically every day. But, with the Internet and the various means of online communication, there is no room for excuses for not communicating with your remote workers. It is best to communicate with your workers on a daily basis. Having a task or project management system also helps in keeping up with the progress of each remote employee’s work. Discuss tasks and projects with your remote workers just like how you would discuss in person. Make time for coffee chats or informal check-ins to ensure your remote employees have what they need to succeed.
3. Make yourself available
In the light of constant communication, also make sure that you are available when your remote workers need you. This is especially important for leadership. It’s easy for your remote workers to lose interest in their tasks if they don’t get feedback when they need it. Lack of feedback can also jeopardize the progress and productivity of the projects. If it isn’t possible to be available to your employees, make sure you specify this to your remote workers. Tell them which times you are available to talk to and tell them a way they can reach you so you can attend to their concerns as soon as possible.
4. Have reasonable expectations
Since monitoring work is quite more complicated if you have remote workers, you may have to adjust and manage your expectations. To do this, you want to create guidelines for monitoring these expectations. Some suggested methods are:
1) Log start and finish times for the day
2) Attend required meetings
3) Including you in emails about important work
It is also important to take note of the remote workers’ performance on a regular basis so you can establish the right expectations and goals. This is to ensure that your employees are happy and motivated in their respective roles.
5. Respect the difference in time zones
Communication is very important for any team, especially an international team. Managing a global team can make communication extremely difficult as they are not readily available at certain times of the day. An email may be answered a few days later or an internal message won’t get a reply for several hours.
If your team in San Francisco is trying to have an 11 a.m. meeting with your team in Seoul, Korea, either no one would be able to make it or they would have to pick up a call at four in the morning. Do take the time to plan team meetings and the flow of communication well in advance so that everyone involved is able to attend and touch base. Don’t let time zones kill productivity. When you hire employees globally, be cognizant of how the time differences may affect your employee’s work.
6. Promote diversity and inclusion initiatives
It goes without being said that a global team would mean you are managing people of different backgrounds, belief systems, and walks of life. It is inevitable that an individual or a team could feel out of place or isolated from the rest of the group. This can negatively affect the productivity and the work culture of your company.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to cultivate those differences and bridge the gap between your employees so that they are able to coexist and work harmoniously together.
Based on a diversity and inclusion survey of more than 300 senior executives undertaken by Forbes Insights, 77% said diversity and inclusion initiatives led to improved employee productivity, 65% said it improved company morale, and 58% said it improved employee turnover rates. Be sure to have a plan in place to make your employees feel like part of the team no matter where they are.
7. Be aware of national holidays and cultural differences
Taking the time to understand what circumstances and cultures your employees around the world are living in can positively impact the way your team works. For example, maybe some of your employees are fasting for a holiday, or maybe a team member has a dietary restriction. This may affect the way they work during that time. Perhaps you are celebrating a huge milestone for your company and want to include your team in Vietnam, but because of Lunar New Year, everyone is at home with their families. Plan ahead and be cognizant of different cultural norms and holidays.
Don’t be afraid to check in with your employees to see how they are coping with work. Different team members are likely to have different work styles and sometimes this may be influenced by cultural norms. Understand your employees and plan ahead so that your work isn’t compromised.
8. Consider using a shared communication software platform for all team members
Tools like Slack or Google Hangouts are a few examples of communication platforms teams can use to keep in touch with each other at any time of the day. Collaborating on a project and tracking your progress in these kinds of tools will allow your team to always be on the same page and reduce instances of miscommunication.
Team meetings are also much more productive when you are able to both see and hear your team members, wherever in the world they may be. Consider investing in a shared video-conference tool for team meetings.
9. Establish motivation
Going global means hiring employees overseas whom you may never meet face to face. Because of this, your foreign employees may not fully understand what motivates you or the company. Some may think salary alone is motivation enough, but not everyone thinks that way. Why should someone live overseas work for you?
Finding common ground, building trust, and using the best HR practices with your employees will remove barriers between parties and lead to a beautiful professional relationship.
10. Use video as much as possible
The saying that goes “action speaks louder than words” is very accurate. More than half of human communication is non-verbal. When you talk with your remote workers, talk with video so you can see them and pick up non-verbal cues. This is how you can gauge their reaction to plan changes or their outlook for the day. This is also essential in developing a rapport with them as it feels more intimate when you can actually see the person you are talking to.
11. Talk with your remote workers longer on one-on-one sessions
Since remote working does not give you and your remote employee all those physical moments in the office to catch up and collaborate with projects and other topics, you should set aside a reasonable time to talk with them and discuss issues.
12. Be witty and funny but be yourself
Sometimes, it’s hard to convey your emotions when you are just using words. Thankfully, messaging apps are now equipped with loads of emoticons and gifs to help you deliver your message more clearly. There is a big difference in sending a witty and funny gif or meme about praising someone for a good job than just the simple and boring “good job” chat message. This will make your employees feel more appreciated and they’d conclude that you are approachable so they can come to you when they need to talk to you about some things.
13. Think of their career paths as well
Your remote workers are normal employees. They have goals and aspirations in their careers as well. This is why one-on-one sessions are important. Let them share what they want to achieve in their careers so you can give them the proper support to help them achieve their goals. They will remember it and chances are, they will remain loyal to you and go out of their way to give exceedingly good results.
14. Have an occasional get-together
Don’t let you and your remote workers get used to only seeing each other on-screen. Organize an annual or bi-annual get-together where you all take a break and go on a trip or have a get-together so you can meet your remote workers face to face. But, more important than the fun and rest, you will also get to mingle with them and build strong rapport and connection. A few days of in-person connection can overpower the months of trying to talk and gauge each other remotely.
If you have a remote workforce NNRoad can help you with employee leasing solutions, so you can focus on efficiently and effectively managing your team. Get in touch to learn more.