Technological advances have affected almost every aspect of the modern life. The ability to get in touch with anyone on the planet, with just an Internet connection and a simple handheld device, is something that people in the past could have only imagined. These communication possibilities have also created an opportunity for business owners to hire qualified and skilled workers from different parts of the world, which has become more enticing due to the ever-growing competitiveness on the market.
However, adding remote employees to your workforce can present certain unique challenges to the employee management that you may be overlooking. There are differences between managing an in-house team and a remote team, and by overcoming these challenges, you will improve the team cohesion, productivity, and morale. Here are some tips for helping you navigate your remote team successfully.
1. Effective communication
This requires investing in technology that will enable your team members to stay connected to their teammates and their work at all times. When it comes to managing remote workers, managers must be proactive communicators. Utilize tools like Google groups to quickly communicate via chat, or Skype for face-to-face video meetings – a good project management tool to manage your projects and tasks in real-time. This means that keeping all the important files and tools on a cloud server is a must for the collaboration to go smoothly.
2. Build rapport by getting to know them
As an employer, you should build rapport with each team member because it will help you build trust and work through any potential issues in the future. It’s easy to talk just about work, and sometimes that’s exactly what you should do (e.g. if you’re on a tight deadline and have other important issues to tackle rather than getting engaged with your team members), but remember that you’re missing out on an essential part of management if that’s all you do. Rapport comes from informal conversations – the ones that help you get to know them as individuals. Ask about their hobbies, friends, or places they come from. This will help you understand their motivations, and it will make them enjoy working for you even more, as they’ll build a bit more personal connection with you.
3. Use video whenever possible
A huge deal of human communication is non-verbal, so it’s crucial to have some kind of visual clue to what someone is thinking, especially when you don’t get to see that someone every day. You need to be able to see their faces in order to judge their overall mood that day or see their reaction when there’s a change in plans. A live video can show you much more than an audio conversation ever will. The non-verbal clues and signs you see when using live video with your employees can indicate certain problems, and thus, offer you an opportunity to fix them.
4. Be goal-focused
Remote workers need to operate as self-starters and will surely thrive with a proper goal-focused direction from you. State your goals and projects (with metrics around them), and provide clarity regarding the roles of your employees in relation to each of these goals. Provide a hub or an online portal for your remote workers, so they can track their overall progress as well as encourage and help each other. Remember that it’s critical to provide context regarding how each team member’s contribution fits into the overall aim of your company.
5. Create accountability structures
Each remote team member has to know your communication chain and expectations. You should develop a communication check-in protocol (utilize tools such as Toggi or Wufoo) and reach out to them regularly to update them on potential problems or priorities that align with the business objectives. To eliminate the confusion related to any management issues, create a video training program that will get your remote workers familiarized with your key staff, they roles in the company, and contact info.
6. Shift to result-based work
Remote workers can work anytime and anywhere, so they don’t base their work value on clocking in and out. They focus on the results they produce, and because of this value shift, they are able to tackle their job demands according to their own schedule. Employers need to train their employees for success by giving them clear expectations and setting result-based goal plans. Therefore, track the productivity and engagement of your employees in new and creative ways by shifting your own value mindset.
These were some tips that may help you lay a foundation for an effective and reliable remote workforce environment. As working from home is not really a new phenomenon anymore, and more and more people are choosing to work like this, you need to get familiar with the best communication systems and strategies, as well as the mindset of these workers, in order for the virtual collaboration to run smoothly.