With the nine to five workday fading, it’s truly a work “where you want” and “when you want” type of world. Digital nomads are on the rise … and for good reason. It’s been shown that remote work benefits both employers and employees. Forbes reported that letting employees work remotely reduces distractions, reduces stress, and decreases company overhead. And a survey from SurePayroll found that 86% of people prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity. If people are more productive while working remotely, it’s a no brainer for leaders and managers to embrace the digital nomad trend.
Instead of commuting to an office day in and day out, employees can tackle their tasks from a desk at home or anywhere--whether that be five miles from headquarters or halfway around the world. Letting employees work remotely is the easy part! Learning to effectively manage a remote workforce can be tricky and requires a fresh mindset, a shift in management style, trust, and the right technology. To help you out, we put together four tips for managing a remote workforce.
1. Foster a Positive and Connected Work Environment
Just because you’re not sitting in the same office as a team member doesn’t mean you can’t have a strong and connected relationship. The key here is to engage regularly. Daily interaction with colleagues will help remote workers feel included and make it easier for them to get their questions answered faster. With a unified communications platform, reaching out to a supervisor or collaborating with someone in a different department is just a click away! Make sure to set them up for success with a proper workspace, too. They bring the talent and you bring the tools necessary. Fostering a genuine and supportive environment requires trusting your employees. Hire people to get the job done and let them do it where and when they work best.
2. Don’t Expect Them to be “Always-On”
Working remotely doesn’t mean working 24/7. It’s crucial to set clear expectations for communication, availability, and weekly responsibilities. Reasonable expectations could be: responding to emails within 24 hours, texting for urgent matters, and no calling before 7 am or after 7 pm to prevent burnout. Since their desk and computer are always right there, remote workers often wonder if they should check emails again and again. Discuss an end-of-day stopping point. Schedule regular meetings to check-in, talk about project milestones, plan for the week ahead, and provide constructive feedback to help your remote workers continue to grow and expand their capabilities.
3. Make Them Feel Like They’re Part of The Team
Since remote employees can’t join team lunches or happy hour meetups, it’s important to find ways to make them feel like an equally important part of the team. Trust me (I’m a remote employee), the lack of face time makes their desire to remain connected and receive regular feedback on their work even stronger. This quote from a Forbes article sums it up perfectly:
“Give remote people as much access to you as possible. Remember, your local people see you in the halls, eat with you at lunch, stop by your office, etc. The remote people don't have that access and can feel distant. Respond to them as quickly as possible.” -Wayne Anderson, Leadership Science Institute LLC
Make time for small talk. Ensure they feel included in team decisions. And if you have the resources, make occasional face-to-face meetings a reality too, whether that’s bringing remote employees along to conferences, flying them in to spend a few days in the office, or hosting company-wide retreats once or twice a year.
4. Leverage Technology to Support Them
It's important to have a variety of tools available that work seamlessly together. Just like you would grab an office employee to join in on a meeting, it’s easy to loop in remote employees to join in via a video call when you have the technology to do so.
If your remote workers are struggling with poor connections on conference calls, have no means of easily chatting with colleagues, and are forced to use unapproved messaging apps or long email chains just to get in touch with the right people, then you have failed them! Ask, “Are the tools we’re using working for you remotely?” Technology should support them in every way, not make it more difficult for them to get their jobs done. It’s crucial to invest in the right tools. From video calls to cloud-based platforms that do it all, there are many tech options that can help a team stay connected and productive.
Stay Connected, Even When You’re Worlds Away
Skilled employees will thrive with remote and flex work options. With a little dedication from leaders plus the right technology, it’s possible to create a thriving culture and productive team. Find a software platform that works on everyone’s computers and phones, making it easy to connect and collaborate no matter the location. When all employees--remote and local--are integrated into the same communications platform, you’ll see a productivity increase for your company and a better quality of life for your team. The era of the remote workforce is here and lucky for you, the tools to support them are too!