Remote employee management is a challenge that many employers are still tackling. Although we have learnt a lot from the previous lockdown, the ongoing mental strain of the COVID 19 pandemic is having an immense impact on employers and employees alike.
The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the uptake of remote working, with many quickly settling into this new norm. Employers now have to implement a range of practices to tackle the challenge of managing remote employees. However, employers can improve morale, productivity and reduce turnover by getting this step right.
In this article, we will go through 10 remote employee management tips that businesses can implement:
Remote Employee Management Tip #1:
Set Clear Expectations
Working from home can be stressful for some employees based on the recent research from the University of Birmingham. It can start from not knowing how to structure their day to being unclear with what communication channels are available. The first thing that managers should do to reduce the stress and pressure employees feel is to set clear expectations around:
- When to expect meetings or correspondence
- What their job duties will be (as they can change when working remotely)
- How they can achieve their measurable targets
Remote Employee Management Tip #2:
Make Time For Social Conversations
It may seem strange to encourage this. However, managers should make time some social chats. As they help build relationships, promote well-being and are an integral part of workplace culture- so should not be neglected when teams work remotely.
With these, you can check in on each other and talk a little about non-work related things. You could even share updates from other meetings (when appropriate). These are not supposed to be formal, as you are trying to recreate those water-cooler moments that we all have during work. Here are some ideas that you can try:
- Virtual Coffee Breaks
- Collaboration Hubs
- Virtual Team Lunches
Remote Employee Management Tip #3:
Encourage Staff To Step Away From The Desk
When working from home, it is easy for employees to be always on. Not only is this damaging for productivity, but also their mental health. With this, managers need to set a clear start and end time, whilst also encouraging healthy habits – such as exercise or getting some fresh air.
Another idea that employers can use to let staff know when to switch off is hold end of the week close-off meetings. With this, you can set a clear boundary that the weekend has begun and staff can get the rest that they need.
Remote Employee Management Tip #4:
Make The Extra Effort To Recognise Employees
Recognising employees for their efforts or achievements is known to improve motivation and productivity, based on the article written by Debra Coray, the Chief Pay it Forward Officer from DebCo HR Ltd. In fact, it is considered the key to employee satisfaction! However, when working remotely, it can be easy for employees to feel as though they are not recognised by the rest of the company – as they are not present in the company.
Ensure that you take the time to call out achievements, be it on a communication channel, via email or on social media.
Remote Employee Management Tip #5:
Have Strong Internal Communication Practices
During these times, all staff must be able to do their job effectively and feel like they are on-top of the situation. Having regular and transparent communication achieves this.
However, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to internal communication as your workforce is, more than likely, multi-generational. So, ask your employees what content they want to consume. Is it a monthly newsletter, a pdf infographic or a podcast/video? By taking this step to understand how your employees want to receive correspondence, you can ensure that they will respond to the information that you send out.
Remote Employee Management Tip #6:
Actively Listen and (Sometimes) Read Between the Lines
Managers should make themselves readily available to their remote teams, as being absent can results in staff feeling disconnected. With digital communication, all employees should actively listen and (sometimes) read between the lines of what is said. As waiting for an employee to speak up may be too late, with many deciding not to raise problems.
With this in mind, try to focus on what is not being said by asking questions and pay close attention to body language during video meetings.
Remote Employee Management Tip #7:
Ensure Staff Have The Technology To Be Successful
Another challenge that employers faced is ensuring that their staff have the technology and resources to be successful during remote working. Including providing the right hardware, enabling access to the company network, ensuring they have the programmes they need and any files.
Additionally, employees need to have clear communication channels to raise IT issues. Whilst you will not be able to support staff with their home internet speeds, employers need to make it clear on how to contact IT support and the level of support that you can deliver.
Remote Employee Management Tip #8:
Implement A Rich Range of Communication Options
For some remote workers, especially those that are new, getting the information they need to be able to work effectively can feel like a huge obstacle. To overcome this, employers need to implement a diverse range of communication technologies that are readily available.
Emails alone are not sufficient to communicate with remote teams, as people can misinterpret them and easily lose emails in their inboxes. With the range of instant communication tools that are available, managers must implement them within teams to ensure that information is easy to find. So that communication is seamless.
Remote Employee Management Tip #9:
Find A Balance With Meetings
Yes, face-to-face meetings are the easiest way to connect remote employees and the quickest method to get information where it needs to be. However, it is important not to schedule them too frequently as they can become a hindrance.
To help find a balance with when to schedule meetings, try to arrange them for critical discussions or urgent issues. But, you can maintain staff engagement by:
- Ensuring that you set a clear purpose and time-frame
- Keeping and presentations short, concise and visual – which is critical for mobile users
- Vary the way that you deliver meetings, swapping between telephone calls, video meetings and catch-ups on instant messaging platforms
- Consider allowing different team members to run meetings
Remote Employee Management Tip #10:
Host Team Building Events
Social isolation is one of the biggest challenges of remote work (with or without lockdown). Even though team-building activities will not feel the same remotely, there are many digital team building activities that you can implement to help staff feel connected and motivated. Here are a few ideas:
- Create Problem-solving challenges or workshops
- Celebrate birthdays as you would in the office
- Get To Know Your Team Sessions
- Virtual Icebreakers: Virtual Murder Mystery
- Name That Song: Emoji Addition
- Hold training or mentoring session
2020 has brought significant changes for employers, as it has forced many to adopt remote working practices. With little to no time to thoroughly prepare. With this, companies have had to quickly evolve their internal communication practices, develop robust IT infrastructure and overhaul their engagement tactics to boost motivation and productivity.
By implementing these tips, employers can continue to build strong relationships with their remote employees whilst being able to effectively manage their teams.