Besides the classic on-site management of many successful companies (such as Google, Facebook and Twitter), where employee productivity is boosted by providing free buffet meals, gym access, child day care and free transportation to and from work, more and more companies nowadays are recognising the benefits and cost effectiveness of hiring remote workforce. Their number one argument is that the best perk of the job is not coming to the office at all! And for such firms, doing business this way allows them to cut costs, offer flexibility to employees and choose amongst the best workers, regardless of their location.
While it may seem like a massive challenge to manage remote employees, it can actually be quite similar to overseeing an in-office staff. There are certainly challenges but it’s not an impossible mission. Here are some tips for leading remote teams successfully.
Focus on productivity
To create a successful remote workforce, the first step to take is to shift management priorities. From the usual focus on face time, attendance, friendly office atmosphere, and communication among workers, you need to concentrate on measuring their work productivity, goals and what they deliver.
To achieve this, managers need to set clear and precise expectations and goals. Since remote work is, by definition, far less structured and temptations to avoid responsibility and slack off are big, the instructions and expectations need to be more defined. Each team member should have no doubt about what their tasks are, the expected timeline, general goals for a specified future period, go-to people, etc.
Establish clear communication among employees
Good communication is crucial in any kind of collaboration, while on a remote team, where chances of miscommunication magnify greatly, it is of the highest importance. In addition to regular check-ins and daily/weekly meetings, it’s imperative for remote workers to have a way to communicate amongst themselves and collaborate easily. Spontaneous conversations and casual chats are far from being a waste of time as they offer workers a time-out in their busy schedules. An account with Basecamp or HipChat can open a channel for sharing even personal and fun things.
However, more than anything else, focusing on an effective collaboration solution should be a priority for any remote team. A professional team collaboration software will help the team to work together and be more productive since it can offer a more organised approach, direct comments under tasks, easy file upload, quick notifications using @name mentions and many other convenient options.
Be on top of things
Checking in regularly is crucial in a remote work environment. With staff stretched out throughout the country, it’s important to keep everyone in sync. By having regularly scheduled meetings, you’ll ensure everyone is always on the same page. It will aid with the goal of making sure your team has the most accurate, up-to-date information, and that they are on track with their work goals as well.
In addition to company-wide meetings, it’s a good idea to check in with individual members of the team often. By taking the time to speak with employees on a one-on-one basis, you’ll know if there are any issues the employee is facing if their job needs to be fine-tuned, and be able to troubleshoot before a small problem becomes a big issue.
With technological advances, there are plenty of methods of communication and it should not pose a problem in remote work conditions. It’s easy to miscommunicate when you’re not personally there, so make sure you use the right platform. For neutral exchange of information, e-mail is excellent while a chat is great for group conversations, informal talk, and general information. However, for long, detailed and potentially difficult conversations, you should turn to Skype or telephone.
Build an atmosphere of trust and value
Telecommuting employees thrive in any work environment when two of their most important needs are met. First, they need to feel as if they are valued and respected within their organization. Second, they excel when management invests in them to help in the trajectory of their career. Both of these needs can be accomplished by offering to coach for all employees as well as mentoring services. You’ll be investing in your employees and, in turn, they will be more invested in your organization and its success.
Another important aspect of workers’ confidence is feeling that they can ask for help when needed. When managers focus on fixing problems and offering solutions to help workers be more efficient, the workers are more likely to reach out when they need assistance.
By making use of these tips, employers can manage and create an environment that not only improves employee satisfaction but also increases productivity, attracts better talent and reduces costs—a win-win situation for workers and companies alike.