It’s no secret that remote work is growing in popularity. Many people are choosing a more flexible style of work instead of being in an office from 9-5 each day.
Virtual jobs are an ideal form of work for people who need to be home with kids, who love to travel, who want flexibility in their hours, or who don’t work well in an office environment.
But for managers, it can be difficult to know how to properly oversee remote employees when they can’t be in the same room with them on a regular basis. Managers fear that out-of-sight means out-of-mind, or that remote employees won’t get their work done.
However, the trend of recruiting remote talent and allowing employees to spend some (or all) of their work hours outside of the office isn’t going anywhere.
Here are six tips for managing remote teams
1. Don’t treat remote employees differently than in-office employees
This is an important tip to remember.
Remote employees might not be in the office, but they are still an employee just like any other. They need to be treated with the same respect, trust, and understanding.
Hold them to deadlines and include them in the same activities that in-office employees are participating in, such as meetings and office get-togethers.
2. Utilize digital collaboration tools
Since remote employees are working from various locations, they need a way to be able to meet and exchange ideas and content with managers and other team members from wherever they are, in real-time.
This can be done with digital collaboration tools (like Stormboard!). These tools can let you chat, edit documents, video conference, and more in real-time, so that remote team members don’t miss out on important information.
3. Check-in with them, but don’t go overboard
When someone isn’t accessible in a workplace where you can actually see them, it can make you want to check-in on them constantly to make sure they are being productive and staying on schedule. But this type of micro-management can be a hindrance if you’re going to build trust.
Remote employees choose remote work (usually) for the flexibility, because they are actually more productive without the distractions of an office, and to be free of restraints that an office setting sometimes brings.
Checking in on remote team members is essential as a manager, however, check-in only when necessary or when you have set pre-determined check-in times. This might be once a day, or a few times a week, depending on their role and how much communication is required.
4. Have a solid communication plan
If you are managing someone who is working remotely, communication is essential.
Before they are even hired, or are making the switch to remote work, a plan needs to be created to make sure all parties involved know when they can contact one another, how they can contact one another, and so on.
With no structure or plan in place, communication can become blurred, and not being able to reach a remote employee can be frustrating.
Assure all remote team members that you are there if they need anything, but also set boundaries so that contact isn’t happening at random or inappropriate times.
5. Hold them accountable for their work
Because a remote worker isn’t in the office, you can’t see if they are doing their work — how do you hold them accountable?
Just as you would with an in-office employee, set specific deadlines, communicate properly, and have clear outcomes and expectations for what they need to complete.
6. Meet in-person
There’s a chance you’ve met a remote employee when you interviewed and hired them, but some companies hire virtually, especially if the person resides in a different country, state, or province.
If they live locally or are able to visit the area, make sure to meet with remote team members when you can. This doesn’t mean you have to meet them for coffee every week — but try to touch base in-person at least a few times a year if possible. This is important for maintaining a solid working relationship.
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