Managing remote employees effectively

How has the way of managing employees change?

Working remotely is different from a typical work routine. In the past, employees are to work in a traditional office environment and managers usually monitor the productivity of employees through the time spent on their desk. However, the working style has changed over the years as businesses are introducing remote work. Remote work is not just due to the advancement of digitalized world, it also has its benefits such as higher employee retention, productivity and cost savings due to reduction in office space which businesses can reap from. As such, it is essential to improve the way we lead, work and manage employees.

Managing remote employees can be quite challenging, especially for businesses who have just begin to introduce the working style to work remotely into their business processes. Businesses need to be aware of how remote work may create feelings of isolation among the employees. Human interaction can be easily taken for granted as communication is limited to only using technology. Without the ability to continuously monitor employees in a shared space, managers need to understand the challenges and implement strategies to ensure the consistency of the business performance.

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Challenges of managing remote employees and ways to overcome them

Setting expectations

Setting expectations from the very beginning is the key to ensure alignment of understanding which will enhance the productivity of remote employees as they are aware of what is expected from them. As a result, they will be able to manage their projects and deliver on time. If things are not well planned at the beginning, there will be miscommunication among the team. Managers need to be more specific on each remote employee’s roles and responsibilities. The expectations can be set in the form of working hours, timely meetings, key projects and deadlines, and responses to emails. By communicating expectations, remote employees can focus on working towards the same goal.

Emphasize on communicating effectively

The need for effective communication is crucial to achieving success for businesses especially for remote working. Since remote working utilizes mostly on technology to communicate, managers need to find and select the right communication tools to ensure that a fixed communication culture is set. Commonly, most businesses used phone, emails and messaging to interact. However, it might cause misunderstanding and reduce the flow of effective communication as there are no visual cues for these communication tools. Hence, managers should strongly encourage their employees to use video conferencing through the usage of various communication tools available such as Zoom, Skype and Discord. Video conferencing provides employees with the benefit of better read of facial expressions and they are more engaged as compared to non-video conferencing.

Regular Check-ins

Managing employees face-to-face at the office is different from managing employees remotely. It is easier for managers to stop by employee’s desk and have a quick check-in. With a remote team, managers need to be proactive when it comes to ensuring that the employee is on the right track. Having one-on-one video conferencing can aid in allowing the managers to evaluate employees’ progress, answer questions and address issues which they might have faced.

Encourage Diversity

Remote work includes a talent pool of employees from all around the globe. It is common to have cultural issues when managing remote teams. Managers should strongly encourage remote teams to have diverse perspectives. Employees from different countries or regions will help bring different experience, perspectives as well as cultures. There are ways in which managers can promote diversity in remote working. For instance, during meetings, managers can give credit and celebrate useful opinions of employees. This ensures that the employees feel accepted and acknowledged no matter which background they come from. By building a diverse culture, employees will have a sense of belonging and commit themselves to the company.

Be Flexible

In remote working, clocking eight hours a day for employees is probably out of the way. Instead, having a flexible work arrangement is ideal as every remote employee have a different environment to work in. Some employees might need to take care of their family while some might have to manage personal issues. Thus, managers need to understand the concerns of their employee while ensuring that the same amount of productivity is achieved. Managers should trust their team and give employees the flexibility to get work done on time that helps them to be most productive. As long as the deadlines are met and work is submitted on time, business can consider employees to work remotely.

Take actions on feedback

Many times, businesses gather feedback from their employees however they may tend not to consider the feedback by making changes to the business processes. Often businesses fall into the trap of assuming what their employees need, want or think. This resulted in unhappiness among the employees and in turn affecting their business improvement. Thus, making the extra effort to gather and listen to feedback can reduce such problems from arising. When managers listen to employees, it shows that the company is more receptive to new ideas and respect employees’ ideas. It is important to inform employees what the company intend to make changes or improvement. There may be some areas which the company is unable to make changes to and this should be communicated to the employees and provide an explanation on the reasons. When businesses exhibit that the employees’ feedback is taken into consideration and actions are initiated, employees will feel that they are more valued. Hence, they will be more motivated to provide innovative solutions which can be beneficial to businesses.

Centralized HR application

Adopting a centralized HR application is crucial in managing remote employees effectively. This application utilizes technology to help to simplify the HR processes. Taking administrative work online can reduce the time spend on doing paperwork by hand as well as updating information manually. With everything stored in a database, it is easier for employees to manage, track and update their information.
The application should include various administration framework to support daily aspects of managing employees such as:

  • Employee attendance
  • Pay slip statement
  • Leave application
  • Claim application

With HR applications, it can benefit your business by operating at a higher level by achieving a better employee experience.

In summary, we understand that managing remote employees will encounter various challenges. By adopting these strategies to manage remote employees, it will provide your business with consistency in communication, better employees’ performance as well as employee satisfaction. Engage with EPS Consultants, our experts will manage your remote employees efficiently.

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