Most firms have had some experience working with remote workers. However, many of them struggle to get the best out of these workers, despite many studies saying that remote work improves productivity. If your company has difficulties with managing these workers to reach full productivity, then you should take note of these six tips for managing remote workers.
Set Expectations Early On
Every employee, remote or not, likes to be clear on how far their jobs go. And it's the job of the manager or employer to make sure that there is no confusion about which roles belong to whom, and who is meant to do what. Managers need to set guidelines early on, clear the air on potential confusions, and review basics. Once that is done, you'll be certain that you're on the same footing with your remote workers. The most important thing is to avoid assuming that employees know what is expected from them. You have to be as explicit as humanly possible, especially with remote workers who you aren't in constant communication with.
Try to Notice Signs of Distress
You need to monitor your workers, and be on the lookout for signs of distress and tiredness. It can be difficult to notice this since these are remote workers and you aren't privy to their everyday schedule and how they work around their tasks. One way to solve this problem is to try to use direct and indirect conversations to get a feel of how they are doing at any given time.
Use every opportunity you can to let them know that not only do you care for them, you also support them and will always be there if they ever have questions or want to talk. You should also try to facilitate regular conversations between managers and their employees. Once you notice these signs of fatigue and rest, make sure to recommend rest and make them know that you'd be willing to support them back to full health. This sort of behaviour endears employees to the firm, and they would be more willing to reach full capacity if they knew that the company genuinely cares about them.
A June 2018 study carried out at the University of South Africa has confirmed what has always been intuitively known; dialogue between employers and employees increases productivity. Another research also points out that the level of inclusiveness and understanding that employees have of a particular management decision and their implications is more important for the success of the decision than the employees "liking" the decision. All this means is that employees don't have to like what you're doing as a manager, but they must understand it. And the only way to bridge that gap is through dialogue. Additionally, regular dialogue encourages employees to express negative emotions and opinions in a way that's not damaging to the organisation.
You're Not in An Office, Act Like It
Office meetings can last for a million years and some more. But online meetings don't have to be that long. It's more acceptable to waste time talking about irrelevant things in-office meetings than it is in virtual meetings. That's partly because, in physical meetings, no one has anywhere to be. Most people will be around until it's time to clock out and are generally in the mood for long meetings. However, virtual meetings can take place in the most extraordinary circumstances and the most extraordinary places, so people generally have other things to do aside from sitting in a video conference for two to three hours. If you have some important information to pass across, do it quickly. It may not look like it, but adapting meeting times to the virtual world will drastically reduce fatigue and let your workers have more time to do the work they are being paid to do.
Adequately Equip Employees
There's hardly anything as demoralising to remote workers as finding out that they will have to equip themselves. If you expect remote workers to produce top-notch work, you also have to do your part and equip them properly. Some managers do the bare minimum— like providing a data plan, and leave it at that. That's no way to go, especially if you're looking to increase productivity among workers. If you want them to join in virtual meetings, try to find out whether they have a great camera. If you want them to be receiving faxes from you, find out whether they have a fax machine.
Now, it's not a necessity that you provide them with every single tech equipment they may need (and many times it's unfeasible to do that), but you do have to equip them to the best of your ability. Ask about gadgets they might need and have to get. Don't just assume they have all the equipment they'll need to be a success.
You also need to make sure the online platform you're working on is reliable, anx won't give your remote workers extra baggage to deal with.
Trust Your Remote Workers
It's a bit difficult to trust remote workers, especially if they are just starting. But that's a challenge you'll have to overcome because people generally perform better when they know they have the trust of the organization. After training remote workers, if you have to, you need to suspend your disbelief and have complete and utter trust in them to reach deadlines and perform tasks.
Many managers think that they have to overcompensate for the loss of constant visibility by micromanaging job tasks. While this approach may yield some gains in the short run, as it would lead to fewer mistakes all around, it will be completely disastrous in the long run. Your employees won't be able to work without you micromanaging every process, and once you aren't able to do that, they will inevitably fall short. However, if you let them find their drive, work at their own pace, and manage their process, they'll become more dependable. The great thing about this is that it would also reduce your workload.