Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce
With the advent of technology, virtual offices have become a norm. The modern day employee has a higher preference for working remotely due to the freedom and benefits working away from the office provides.
According to Owlabs, it is estimated that staff who work at least once a month from home, feel 24% happier than those bound at their desks.
A survey done by TECLA also shows that 70% of staff globally work from home at least once a week.
According to the same survey also 2/3 of remote workforce note improved productivity in their work compared to traditional office employees. In addition it has also been predicted that more companies are expected to transition to virtual office only environment in 2019.
As a business owner or manager sourcing a remote workforce can be a challenge, but a greater task is how to manage it. In the normal or traditional office set up, you have the opportunity to communicate face to face. With the above statistics in mind, remote workforce management becomes a management aspect that cannot be ignored. Some of our concerns questions after recruiting remote workforce include:
How do we manage them?
How do we make sure they understand their responsibilities and how do we ensure they carry out assigned tasks effectively?
How can we make sure they feel valued?
How do we motivate them to give their best?
How do we retain them?
The goal of employing any workforce is to help you achieve your business strategic goals. You could therefore be wondering how best to manage that remote aspect and at the same time ensuring, you get the expected results.
How to manage your remote staff
Working remotely means you do not have the opportunity to walk to their desk and challenge, encourage or pass information to them in person. You therefore need to look for appropriate ways of doing so. A remote worker sometimes may feel sidelined and you therefore have to talk to them and make it known to them that they are an important part of your business. Slack is a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services that is free which is a great tool for team communication.
You need to look for appropriate tools for communication. The communication can be voice only or you can hold video conversations. There are many tools to accomplish this such as Skype or zoom. I highly encourage video conversations as it fosters some seriousness and also engagement levels will be higher since both of you can read into each other's gestures.
You also need to ensure you schedule your conversations daily, weekly or bi-monthly as is fits your business. The key thing is to ensure it's constant. In these sessions it's important to allow your staff to share their feedback on any work related concerns. Make it an engaging conversation, not some sort of one side conversation. This will leave your staff feeling like they mean something to your organization.
It's good to ensure that you also do a one on one conversations. A teleconference is a good ideas for the entire remote workforce group. A personal communication is key to ensure every staff has an opportunity to express their ideas in confidentiality without the fear of being judged by the rest of the team. This also helps to build rapport with your team which is good in building trust between yourselves.
If there are other work related communication channels like instant messaging groups make sure to include them. This way they receive relevant information and updates in good time and they can work efficiently.
Empower your team
An empowered team is an effective and an efficient team. There's no better way to demoralize a remote staff than asking them to deliver when they lack the essential tools of work. Do you want to see their productivity increase? Then invest in making sure all the relevant tools needed to work are provided. This improves responsibility and reduces codependency among them.
As their manager also, you don't have all the time to keep handling escalations due to lack of tools. Unlike in the physical office where staff can share some tools, a remote staff may have difficulties in accessing or looking for relevant work tools.
It is important to share with your team the company's strategic objectives and get them involved in the different aspects of your business. Let them know what's your mission and vision as a business so that they are well guided as they carry out the tasks assigned to them.
From this point you can set clear expectations and in return they will feel obligated to perform because you have given them an idea on which direction to go. In addition, this keeps off micromanagement which every employees detests and at the same time frees you up to focus on other aspects of the business.
A remote staff stands out to be disadvantaged when it comes to in-office celebrations. It's easier to shout out well done in the in-house office since your staff will communicate any milestone achieved directly to you.
A word of appreciation goes a long way in boosting their productivity and energy. As a manager you need to have a system in place of ensuring your remote workforce do not feel left out. You can employ project management tools to ensure you track their achievements and none of them goes unnoticed by both sides.
Use of time tracking tools
The benefit of a time tracking tool is that both you and your staff are well updated on the progress of the different tasks assigned to them. For the staff it's easy for them to recognize when they need to improve their performance by spending time on more meaningful tasks and reducing time wastage. This also improves remote workforce self-management which is critical for an effective virtual office. Clockify offer a free tool for tracking your staff.
Related : How to find a virtual office
Encourage remote socializing
Remote workforce misses out on out of office engagements and workplace socializing. To encourage this you can create staff online social forums to discuss issue out of work. This can be a staff "fun place" to share funny moments, social memes, jokes and anything that can lighten then up.
Organize a staff face to face get-together
Once in a year or as appropriate for your team, you can organize a face to face meet up. This is important in building work related connections and getting to appreciate one another. In such forums it will not be hard to hear "Oh, so this is the face behind the voice?" and other bubbly reactions as staff get to warm up to each other.
This get-together could include other fun activities other than a glass of wine! For example travelling to some exotic place together. These activities build a great energy within your time and can boost the performance of your team by being an avenue where your remote workforce discuss on issues affecting them, the company performance and the future of the team. This would be hard to be discuss from virtual offices.
Pair up your team
As often said, two are better than one! To improve productivity, occasionally pair up two remote workers and have them work on a task. This is likely to improve the quality of work delivered as two minds share ideas. This also improves work place collaboration and as the remote workers learn one another and build some sort of a support system in each other.
Use performance measurement tools
It is important to award performance based on results other than hours put in. For remote workforce, it's key to make them understand their expected deliverable and to understand that will be the basis of measuring their performance. This defines their Key Performance Indicators (KPI) .
Unlike in a traditional office, it is difficult to control the behavior of a remote workforce. As a manager, you will therefore have to make sure your business processes are well documented and followed. Measuring performance against expected deliverable is a sure way of doing this.
Related: Virtual Offices For Startups
Get to know them in person
A healthy employee-manager relationship is key in retaining remote workers. As a manager, it is therefore important to learn about each one of them. Understand their motivations, what makes them tick? What kind of person are they; are they a morning person or do they work better at night? What motivates them to work from home?
This way you easily understand their strengths and how best you can leverage on them to help the staff meet their targets.
At the bottom of every effective remote worker management is communication. As a manager, one of your concerns is making sure you retain them as hiring would also be a big task.
Ensure that you constantly engage them as remote workers spent most of their times in their homes and alone. They therefore need to feel like someone cares for them. As a manger it is key to ensure you constantly check on them. Ask them how they are doing, how the projects are fairing on.
Find out from them what can be improved and how you can make things better for them. If they are within your neighborhood, you can have coffee sessions with them and talk. Otherwise you run the risk of losing them to another employer. Somehow, stay in touch with them.
If you are managing a remote workforce and need an executive office suite to conduct your business in the Hallandale / Aventura region then contact 221 building today for more information.