Managing Workers Remotely
20th June 2017
Remotely working from home have become increasingly common in today’s workforce. Modern technologies like collaborative software and video conferencing has opened up the opportunity for workers to do their job from any location in the world and to manage workers while travelling on business. While companies have embraced this as the new normal, it still comes with its own set of challenges. Here are some tips on how to manage people remotely.
Establish Effective Communication Methods
Clear communication is the most important aspect of managing workers remotely. When you’re not physically in the room with your employees, it’s very easy to misunderstand or misinterpret an interaction. It’s therefore essential to choose the appropriate communication strategies for the right circumstances to prevent this from happening.
For remote working jobs, video conferencing is the most effective and productive method of communication for in-depth meetings and discussions. The ability to read each other’s facial expressions and hear the tone of voice eliminates any potential for miscommunication. With video conferencing, you can understand your employees’ concerns and questions, and address them right away. It also has the benefit of making your remote workers feel more a part of the team because it’s like they’re right there with you. If video conferencing isn’t possible, phone and Skype calls can be just as effective for long, detailed discussions. Chat platforms, on the other hand, are more useful for informal talk, general announcements and group discussions. Email tends to have the most potential for misinterpretation and should be saved for short, objective exchanges of information.
Utilising collaborative software can aid greatly in facilitating harmonious team communications and efficient project planning. Project management tools such as Trello allow users to create cards on online group boards for tasks that need to be completed. Easy to use and visually appealing, Trello helps to organise tasks by allowing users to easily comprehend the importance of various tasks and their current level of progress.
Online proof approval software, such as Aproove and PageProof bring together different parts of a project into a single virtual space, which can help employees work together without the difficulties that traditional paper-based projects often bring.
Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Remote jobs are much less structured than on-site company work. This means it’s easy for remote workers to take advantage of the job’s flexibility. It’s your job as the manager to set more structured expectations and goals so that your employees know exactly what is required of them. Your remote employees should know what they must accomplish during the week, which tasks they own, their general goals for the next one to three months, and whom to contact when they are having problems. The best way to ensure expectations are being met is to have your employees set specific working hours. This way, they will have a structured schedule to to rely on where they must be available for work.
Build Familiarity and Trust with Your Remote Employees
Within the workplace, it’s important for managers and employees to have a strong relationship built on trust. Employees should feel comfortable enough with their managers to ask questions and address any concerns. This should be no different when managing workers remotely. Remote workers often feel somewhat alienated from the broader team, so it is necessary that you make the extra effort to check in and support them. From the start of your relationship with the remote employee, make it clear that feedback is always available, and encourage open communication. Don’t hold back on praise and acknowledgement of their work, so that they know their efforts are not going unnoticed.
Getting to know your remote employees on a personal level can also be incredibly effective in building trust, familiarity and empathy. During video conferences and calls, save the first few minutes to talk to them about things you usually would at work, such as their family, kids or weekend plans.
When it comes down to it, managing workers remotely is not all that different from managing people within an office setting. Your job is still to guide and support your employees; it simply takes different techniques and means to do so.