Unsure how to best manage your remote workforce? You’re not alone.
As communication technology evolves and productivity tools become more robust, jobs that allow employees to work remotely are quickly becoming the standard rather than the exception. In fact, 65 percent of organizations have a combination of office-based and remote employees, according to a recent global survey by Buffer Inc.
And given work-from-anywhere policies can help organizations save on facilities costs, increase employee satisfaction and attract and retain top talent from around the globe, it’s likely to become even more prevalent.
But for companies used to having their entire workforce on-site, adjusting to more flexible work arrangements requires a management paradigm shift. From your culture and technology to your performance metrics, you’ll need to address several aspects of your organization if you want to set your remote workers up for success.
Here are a few ways you can support your remote employees.
Set clear expectations
Giving employees more autonomy can seem like a risky business move. It’s easy to assume people will abuse their newfound flexibility, which could threaten performance and company success. However, entrusting employees to manage themselves and their time actually leads to higher levels of engagement, not less, according to 2018 Global State of Remote Work by Owl Labs.
The key to maintaining (and improving) performance through remote work lies in setting expectations.
It’s important to provide explicit rules regarding working hours, how quickly you expect employees to respond to emails messages and transparency between employees and managers.
For example, managers could require each member of their respective team to check in a certain number of times per day. Additionally, make sure employees know the consequences for failing to meet these expectations — and make an effort to hire candidates who have greater self-discipline, and/or who have prior experience working remotely.
Measure productivity through results
Many employers measure employee dedication by monitoring whether an employee arrives on time each day, how many hours they spend in the office and whether or not they stay focused on their given tasks. But when employees work remotely, managers have less visibility into how team members spend their workday.
However, focusing on employees’ results is a much better method of measuring performance than supervising how much time they spend at their desks. After all, does it really matter how an employee manages their day so long as they complete assignments on time, communicate regularly and meet their objectives?
Rather than relying on appearances to judge productivity and employee work ethic, remote work helps managers develop new, more accurate metrics of assessing employee performance — such as project outcomes and quality-of-work.
Build a technology-powered culture
For remote employees to be successful, your organization must equip them with the right technology. From the communication software you choose to the equipment you provide, it's important your entire workforce has access to reliable, high-quality tech.
Additionally, it’s essential you make online collaboration and communication part of your company culture.
For example, instead of holding ad hoc office meetings to discuss recent developments, host a video chat or conference call so as not to exclude remote workers. And encourage employees to use instant messenger programs for water cooler chats so everyone can participate. This will not only improve cooperation and facilitate operational efficiency, but it will help keep off-site employees from feeling isolated, too.
Schedule annual face-to-face events
Remote work offers companies and employees plenty of advantages, but some in-person interaction is still essential. To help strengthen relationships between employees and boost team morale, consider bringing everyone together at least once per year for company-wide or team-wide events.
Even a two or three-day retreat can foster deeper connections between employees and help remote workers feel more integrated into the organization.
Require managers to hold regular one-on-one meetings
From reviewing projects and goals to discussing career advancement opportunities and sharing feedback and concerns, regular one-on-one conversations between managers and their team members are critical to employee performance. But they’re even more crucial for remote employees.
While in-office team members can easily meet with supervisors to have their questions or concerns addressed, remote workers may not have as much direct access. Additionally, they may not always know when their managers are available and might be hesitant to interrupt them.
Regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings help bridge gaps between offsite employees and their managers and establish stronger communication habits. The more opportunities employees talk with their supervisors, the more comfortable they’ll feel about approaching them between meetings.
By enhancing the support you offer your offsite employees, you can bolster engagement, collaboration and performance across your entire workforce.
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