Managing remote teams is certainly more complicated than managing traditional office workers. Remote teams require extra communication, trust, time, and management. One point to note is that when working at full capacity, remote teams can also be more powerful. When employees have a supervisor who can manage them well, workers who do remote work get less distracted and are often happier working remotely and more productive than office workers. One other benefit of allowing remote work is that a company is also able to extend their reach and get the best talent for their team’s unique needs. Additionally, a business can save money on office space and resources when they are managing remote employees. Below are some best practices for managing remote teams and helping them achieve the most in their work.
1. Encourage and support wellness.
For employees who perform remote work, full or part-time, it’s easy to forget wellness. Working and sitting all the time can be terrible for mental and physical health. Healthy, happy employees have been proven to be more productive and successful in their work. So, it will help everyone if a company can support their remote work team in taking time for their physical and mental health. One example is to encourage staff to take breaks from work during the day to get in at least one brief walk. Another one is to encourage workers to take time for a lunch break away from their desk and their work. Supervisors can also try to help their remote work team to manage their stress and to manage their workload so they can avoid issues like burnout.
2. Use training software so anybody working remotely can take mandated and optional courses at the optimal time for them.
Even if a team is doing remote work, they may still be subject to state and federally mandated trainings (sexual harassment is one example). To take these trainings, a company’s management can use software like MP Learn. Besides allowing employees to complete trainings at whatever time or place works best for them, the software also has other features. It can assist in much more than just having employees take federal or state-mandated courses. Managers can also pre-record custom trainings that could help their team perform their remote work at a higher level. The software will even help management track which employees take assigned courses and which ones haven’t yet.
3. Track time, attendance, or other measures of working productively.
Many employers are concerned about allowing remote work because they don’t know how to manage a remote team. They think that if they don’t can’t manage employees in a visual way, they can’t effectively manage them and ensure full productivity. This is false, especially with HCM software options that measure time, productivity, communication with clients, and other measures of achievement at work. This kind of software (offered by MP ) can assist management as they take the pulse on how much their team is working and where they can improve. Sometimes it can be hard to gauge if employees are working hard, even if they’re completing all their remote work and meeting expectations. Productivity software provides the time and data that management needs to evaluate employees performing remote work in a precise, accurate way.
4. Create a standard process for managing onboarding.
Employers that hire remote teams should be ready to take extra time and care with their onboarding process. View our webinar on Hiring, Onboarding, & Dismissal in a Remote Environment. Employees that never step foot in the office because they are working remotely should receive extra communication from managers, teammates, and coworkers across the organization. Ideally, this communication will be at least partially visual, with zoom or some other form of video meetings. Management should also build in extra check-ins to answer any questions that the new employee might have as they take everything in. Managers and teammates should work hard to establish a relationship with the newest member of their remote team. They need to overcompensate for the fact that they won’t get all the little opportunities for connection, like at lunch, by the watercooler, or chatting before meetings start.
5. Write a remote work policy.
As mentioned above, when allowing remote work, it can be crucial to an employer’s success if they create a telework policy to manage those do remote work, whether part or full-time . These remote work policies should lay out the details that will help managers and workers be on the same page about everything. The remote work policy should define where and when work will be done. It should also define the primary methods and expectations for communication while employees are working remotely. If someone who is working should always be accessible by their company cell phone or via email, this is the place to note that information. The telework policy should help workers understand expectations for how and when to deliver work, especially what specific technology or channels, so managers are never confused about where something might be. One final element of a telework policy that could help a remote team be more successful is to define what work or what jobs can be done remotely at all. Some employees may need to work from the office, and managers will have less pushback from employees if this is already defined clearly in a remote work policy. (To write the best remote work policy, companies can turn to professional HR services like MP’s.)
6. Use employee engagement surveys when managing remote employees.
Burnout is a problem for every workforce, but especially on remote teams. When working remotely, employees can have a tough time unplugging or feeling like they ever truly disconnect from their work. It’s also much harder for management to know if their remote team is feeling burnt out. They don’t get the same visual cues that an on-site manager would get, as they only see them briefly in meetings, if at all. To help get a better reading on how engaged or disengaged their remote team is, management can use surveys. These can either be anonymous or named. Anonymous surveys might get higher rates of completion, while named ones could help supervisors to know more about who specifically needs more attention on their remote team. (MP’s Perform and Engage software has excellent surveys and tools for collecting and analyzing results.)
7. Create, enforce, and have management model remote work boundaries and schedules.
Working remotely can make it hard for employees to turn off at the end of the day and unplug. To help a remote team stay engaged and avoid burnout, management can share and model time management, scheduling, and boundaries. Effective communication about schedules and expectations is the first step. However, managers shouldn’t stop there. It’s important for them to sign off at the end of the day, end communication with their employees past working hours (no midnight emails from work!), and to avoid celebrate achievements gained by working overtime and late hours. Management can also conspicuously sign off, telling their remote team that they’re done for the day. This can help them to feel it’s ok to stop working if they see their boss do it.
8. extra time into building relationships with your remote team.
Managers with remote teams should put extra effort into communication and relationship building with their reports. When working with a remote team, the opportunities for daily connection are generally lost. Eating together at lunch, chatting by the water cooler, or having face-to-face small talk can all make for stronger, better working relationships and collaboration. Managers should build strong relationships with their remote teams, but they should also help facilitate the same amongst their employees. They can model and facilitate time for their remote teams to connect. This might be bigger efforts like carving out time from working for a virtual happy hour. Managers could also just make sure there’s a little bit of time for chatting about life and interests outside of work at each meeting. Building better communication all around can be extremely beneficial to the final work product of a remote team. When they care about each other and work well together, employees can be more innovative, efficient, and generally work harder to help their company reach its business objectives.
9. Hire people who can manage remote work.
When you build a remote team, the hiring process will be important. Managers should add questions about candidates’ prior work experience and aptitude for remote work. They can also ask about skills that relate to working remotely, like structuring their day for work, meeting deadlines and expectations, and communication and collaborating with teammates on a project via digital methods. Managers could also ask candidates about their set up for working from home. Do they have a quiet space to work without distraction? Outside of pandemic circumstances, do they have reliable childcare? When they get references, managers should ask previous employers if they engaged in remote work or if they have the skills necessary to work remotely.
10. Make sure worker’s compensation insurance covers your remote teams.
When managing remote employees, employers may still have to deal with workers’ compensation claims. The claims from workers that will be successful are usually something like what would come from office workers. These are often carpal tunnel syndrome, lower-back strain, and trip-and-fall injuries. Workplaces can protect themselves against fraudulent claims by writing a telework agreement for its remote team. This remote work agreement should require the employee’s space for work to comply with the kinds of safety criteria of typical places for on-site work. Any member of the remote team should be required to have working fire extinguisher and smoke detector, as well as be clear of clutter, exposed wiring, and slippery surfaces. The agreement should give managers permission to come inspect the work site after workers make a workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, it will protect the company better from fraudulent claims if the agreement can establish the work schedule, as this confines workers’ compensation-eligible accidents or activities to those hours. Before allowing remote work, managers should reach out to their workers’ compensation insurance to make sure that their remote teams will be covered.
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