Managers who are working with remote teams may find that their workers are even more productive than workers who report to work on site every day. Managers of remote employees can also hire the best talent and career experience for their team. Because they aren’t tied to location, the talent pool of potential employees is much wider. Offering the option of remote work also tends to attract more candidates, which also widens the pool of possible employees for hiring managers to select from. Managing remote employees has its advantages, but it isn’t always easy. Management of remote workers comes with its own unique challenges. Here are seven tips for the management of remote employees
1. Ensure that your workers’ compensation insurance covers your remote workers.
Employees who work in a remote capacity can still file workers’ compensation claims. Employers who have remote teams, either partially or in full, should ensure that their workers’ compensation insurance will cover claims from remote workers. Their telework policy needs to include language that requires employees to have a clear workspace, free of obstacles they could trip and fall over. They should always have a fire extinguisher accessible and resources for first aid. Employers must also be allowed to come and physically inspect an employee’s remote work setup within a few days if they do make a claim.
2. Create a telework policy.
One of the most important resources for a manager in handling a remote team is a telework policy. If an employer doesn’t already have one, they should develop a policy for employees who perform remote work. This should include expectations for handling resources like laptops and headsets, as well as for events like delivering work, meetings, or answering questions. It should describe the general hours or schedule that a remote employee works and the technology (hardware, a software program, etc.) and resources they’re expected to use in their jobs. The policy should include an acknowledgement page which employees sign and the employer keeps on record with other similar files and resources. This will ensure that everyone understands the expectations and requirements of remote work and there are less surprises and miscommunications.
3. Create and model boundaries for remote work.
One common challenge with remote work is that team members can have a hard time unplugging from work. This can lead to burnout, which seriously hurts the morale of team members, productivity, and eventually a company’s bottom line. One of the best tips for avoiding this is to create, model, and enforce boundaries between remote work and life. Management can set schedules for team members, but they can also just model these schedules themselves. They can do so by letting everyone know that that they’ve signed off work for the day and won’t be available. It’s also important for managers to enforce the idea that it’s ok for their team to unplug from work. They shouldn’t reach out with work questions or calls and emails off-hours.
4. Hire candidates who have done remote work before.
Managing remote teams also means hiring for a remote team. There will come a time when team members leave, or a new role needs to be created and filled because the work has increased. One of the best tips is to hire candidates who have experience with remote work in their career. Another way to make the best addition to the team is to isolate what qualities star employees have that help them excel at remote work. This might be discipline, time management, using resources like collaborative technology, the ability to research and figure out a task independently, or something else. Hiring managers can then ask about these qualities during the interview. (MP’s recruiting services can also assist with this.)
5. Check in with remote employees more often.
When managing remote employees, it’s a best practice to check in more frequently. Remote employees and their managers will benefit from this for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps create strong relationships between workers and managers. Secondly, it’s time that employees can bring up any questions or concerns that they have with their work, team procedures, etc. These are the kinds of things that are said at the water cooler or the lunchroom, but don’t come up when employees are remote and never cross paths with their managers unless there is a call or meeting scheduled.
6. Managers should never cancel a meeting, even if it seems like there’s nothing to discuss.
Meetings with remote employees are an important time for managers to catch up with their team. Even if managers and employees both find there aren’t any obvious topics to discuss, the meetings shouldn’t be cancelled. Managers and employees can use this time to delve into topics that are often left on the back burner. Or, this time could be used to talk about what’s going well with the team and its workflow, or what could be improved.
7. Use technology to track time and payroll.
Often, managers are nervous to allow remote work because they can’t get a visual or physical connection with their workers the way on-site managers can. With the right technology, like MP’s, managers can ensure that their team members are at work during their scheduled time and that all their time at work is accounted for. These resources will also help employers ensure that they’re in compliance and all employees are paid everything they’re owed—especially non-exempt employees.
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