The ability to work remotely is an increasingly popular employee retention driver. Respondents from our latest Talent Retention Report in the creative, marketing, digital, fashion, beauty, and retail sectors ranked remote work as third in importance just under compensation and health benefits. Further, 80% of those surveyed said that they would look for another job if their company required them to work on-site the majority of the time.
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So, one can safely assume that remote work is here to stay. While popular, remote work does come with some complexities. But we have tips to help you successfully manage remote workers.
UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGES
Those leading remote teams should be prepared for some of the potential challenges that come with managing people from afar.
Lack of facetime: In-person time can be critical for team bonding in the office. And when you don’t have these opportunities, it’s important to take extra measures to help build a sense of rapport and community.
Miscommunications: Text, email, and chat can all be culprits of communication misfires. Still, these methods are necessary for any work environment, especially a remote one. When managing remote workers, leaders must think through how certain subjects should be communicated. If there is ever a risk of something being misinterpreted, it’s wise to make sure those conversations are either a phone call or virtual check-in.
Distractions: Working from home, a coffee shop, or an office – all these environments come with distractions. And while in an office, those distractions may be shared among the group, those remote distractions may not be as obvious. While managers should try to be cognizant and understanding here, they should also be clear in communicating what is expected of employees during the workday.
SET CLEAR STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS
Many of us were first introduced to remote work during a time of uncertainty. As the pandemic shuttered many office buildings and sent people home with their laptops, there were a lot of unknowns for both managers and employees. But now most of the kinks have been ironed out and we’re all in a better rhythm. Today, managers should be more familiar with what works, and what doesn’t.
Hence, those managing remote workers should set standards and expectations early on. Some things to consider might be whether you need your team to abide by a specific set of core working hours. If your group’s work allows for more flexibility, consider setting deadlines for specific projects and letting your team work whatever hours work best for them so long as all obligations and deadlines are met. Think through what individual employees should contribute to each team meeting. Also, identify and explain the best way for team members to keep the larger group apprised of project status updates – whether that’s in discussions during meetings, via shared documents or tools, or through weekly emails.
Managers should also set expectations around when work-related emails and phone calls are answered. There should be clear communication about when the official workday is done. So, if someone decides to still send an email after say, 6:30 p.m., the rest of the group should not feel like they need to respond until the following workday.
PROVIDE PROPER EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS
Just as you would equip in-person employees with a desk, proper chair, computer, mouse, keyboards, notepads, and whatever else they need – managers should consider what their remote workers need to set up their workstations at home. And while you may not have the budget or ability to ship complete sets of office furniture, make sure your employees have the basics they need to perform their job.
This could include a laptop, extra monitors, keyboards, software subscriptions, and other supplies as necessary. While most of this should be covered in the onboarding phase, it could be beneficial to regularly check in with your employees to see if any other supplies could better help them do their job.
And because your employees won’t have access to the company Wi-Fi network or telephones, consider offering a monthly stipend or expense option to help offset the cost of cell phone or internet service fees.
MAKE THE MOST OF VIRTUAL TEAM MEETINGS
When you are managing a remote team, virtual staff meetings are the main opportunity you have to engage in face-to-face communication. Meetings can be a great way to encourage team bonding, foster community, strategize projects and priorities, and celebrate wins. Have a clear agenda for meetings but if certain subjects merit more time, adjust accordingly.
But too many meetings can also throw a wrench in productivity, making it important for managers to think through what needs to be a meeting and what can be an email.
To help your employees plan, try to set aside a designated day and time to hold these meetings each week. And on the flip side, if you’re able, schedule designated no-meeting days to give your team time to do deep focus work uninterrupted.
PRIORITIZE ONE-ON-ONE TIME
In addition to team meetings, 1:1 check-ins allow you to better get to know individual employees. This time may be some of the best time spent for those managing remote workers.
These are not just opportunities to discuss projects and work updates, but time for you to gauge the pulse of how employees are feeling, get to know them on a more personal level, and look out for any potential signs of burnout so you can make sure to get ahead of it.
These meetings should be seen by your employees as a chance to have an open dialogue – a time where they can voice concerns, ask questions, request feedback, and communicate their needs.
Oftentimes managers will have busy schedules with back-to-back meetings, so, naturally, some emails or notes from your employees may not be addressed immediately. These 1:1 check-ins can also serve as a time to address those missed communications and go into more detail if necessary.
COMMUNICATE, ACTIVATE, AND FOLLOW UP
Keeping a continuous free-flowing line of communication is a foundation for building healthy remote team relationships. Clear and frequent communication helps managers better understand their employees, helps employees better understand their coworkers as teammates, and helps everyone better understand expectations and how to reach common goals.
Managers should also make sure they’re communicating any organizational changes, whether it be policy or staffing, with their employees. While some of these updates may go out in company emails, it never hurts to overcommunicate to make sure no one is left in the dark.
And while communication is important, if managers are not acting and following up when concerns are raised, employees may feel like their problems are being ignored.
REMEMBER THAT TRUST IS KEY WHEN MANAGING REMOTE WORKERS
Some managers may struggle with trust when leading a team of remote workers. You can’t see them, so how do you know that they are working when they say they are? But instead of wondering if your employees are working, managers might find it beneficial to focus instead on the work that is getting done. If employees are communicating regularly and meeting all their goals and deadlines, managers should trust that their team is being productive and doing their jobs effectively.
CELEBRATE SUCCESS AS A TEAM
Managers should look out for the same opportunities they would in an office to celebrate employees and their teams, whether it be personal or professional.
This can include but is not limited to work anniversaries, birthdays, and professional accomplishments. If you would have gotten an office cake before, consider sending a card or a small gift. Make sure to recognize that employee in your team meeting and if the celebration merits, consider sending a companywide email as well.
These celebrations can help foster a sense of community between individual employees and the larger team.
HOW 24 SEVEN CAN HELP YOU FIND SKILLED REMOTE WORKERS
Looking to bring remote workers aboard to help build your teams?
The specialized recruiters at 24 Seven have access to highly skilled professionals with experience in creative, marketing, digital, fashion, beauty, and retail industries throughout the country. We understand the nuances of finding and hiring remote workers and bring that expertise to our clients.
Whether you’re looking for full-time or freelance employees we can help you find the talent you need to move your business forward. Contact a recruiter today and let us help you find the right fit for your team.