Remote work is quickly becoming the new norm in a world that is still experiencing the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. As a result, learning how to effectively manage your remote team became a new priority overnight.
Businesses are trying to respond to the challenge, with mixed results. Companies with previous experience in managing a remote workforce are mostly doing fine. Those that are just getting started with practice are having a much harder time.
In order to handle a remote team, managers have to adopt a completely different mindset than the one they use for on-site teams. Failing to do so will result in productivity losses which are hard to justify in the present state of the world economy.
On the upside, almost 91% of employees claim they feel more productive working from home or a co-working space instead of the office. This means there is room for productivity gains with remote work, provided you have a strategy for it in place.
Here is what you need to know to get started.
Provide Recognition Where Recognition is Due
Remote workers thrive in environments that value their work, just as on-site workers do. However, it is difficult to feel that your contributions matter if there is no one there to recognize them. Usually, all it takes for someone to feel recognized for a job well done is a friendly handshake or a smile, but this is precisely not possible in the case of remote teams.
What you can do instead is find a different way to show appreciation for your remote team. Use the communication channels you have at your disposal to extend the same kind of courtesy to remote workers as you would to regular employees. A thank you email after a job well done is not quite the same thing as a heartfelt ‘good job!’ in real life, but if you’re honest, your remote workers will get the message all the same.
Offer Remote-specific Rewards and Incentives
One of the ways employers reward employees is through quality of life improvements of the working environment. Ergonomic furniture, leisure rooms, free cake in the fridge, etc. Remote workers are not in the position to enjoy these benefits, which is why you should develop an alternative system of rewards and incentives.
For instance, you can offer higher per-hour rates to remote workers that want to go above and beyond the hours assigned to them each week. Or you can give out discount coupons for things like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and other online services.
Use a Collaboration Platform
Teamwork is essential for productivity, whether you’re an on-site team or a remote one. However, it is much harder to foster teamwork between people that will probably never meet each other in person. What you can do is opt to use a collaboration platform to ensure that your remote workers are on the same (web)page.
Platforms such as Basecamp, Asana, Slack, and others are indispensable for managing remote teams effectively. They offer essential features for task management, live communication, progress tracking, and more.
Provide Onboarding and Training Online
Another thing that remote workers don’t get to experience firsthand is the onboarding process. Remote workers usually have to do their own research in order to figure out how their employers operate and what they want. Leaving remote workers to their own devices in this manner can seriously hamper their efficiency without them even realizing it.
The solution here is to have an onboarding system in place specifically designed for remote teams. A training operations management software will help you assemble an onboarding curriculum that will teach new remote workers all they need to know about working at your company.
Learn to Recognize Problems On Time
Conflicts and miscommunication often arise between remote workers and management. If you don’t recognize these problems on time, they can escalate to the point where they can’t be solved. Imagine if key members of your remote team left just prior to the completion of a project due to a conflict that went under your radar. The consequences can be downright devastating.
Prevention is the best cure when it comes to solving problems of this sort. Always keep an ear open for what your remote workers are saying, even if everything appears normal. The workers themselves might want to talk about the problem, but they might feel that there’s no one listening on the other end. Make sure that’s not the case.
Staying Efficient at Long Distance
The transition to an economy based on remote work is underway as we speak. Most businesses are adapting their business strategy in accord out of sheer necessity, but there are also those that see remote work as an opportunity to improve their operation. Remote work can produce results that match on-site work, frequently with lower overhead, provided you know how to manage a remote team. And we hope this post will point you in the right direction.