Managing Remote Employees

Managing Remote Employees

Remote work has proven to be much more than a trend.  With 70% of employees all around the world working from home at least one day a week and 53% reportedly working remotely at least half of the week, the concept doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.  We haven’t quite mastered it in practice yet though. A 2019 study conducted by Buffer revealed that remote workers biggest struggles are unplugging after work, loneliness, and communication. Employers have a real opportunity to improve how their company manages remote employees and establish practices that are beneficial to the well being of all employees.

Keep Them Involved

At Payroll Link, we love a good celebration. Just because some people aren’t physically able to be there doesn’t mean they should be left out of the fun!  If the local office is having a Halloween costume contest encourage remote team members to participate by dressing up and submitting pictures to enter the running. If you celebrate birthdays at your office with a card from the team, invite remote employee’s to include a message of their own by chatting it to a local member who can print it out or write on their behalf.  With the resources we have today there is always a way to be included from afar.

Use a Project Management App

We love using ASANA for project management. The phrase “If it’s not in Asana, it doesn’t exist.” gets thrown around a lot in our office and it’s essentially true.  Remote employees are not undercover employees. Give everyone the ability to see what everyone is working on and delegate their own tasks and questions. This type of transparency adds a level of accountability and connectedness.  

Embrace GIFS and Emojis

GIFS and emojis are a fun way to convey emotion behind non-verbal communication and allow you to get to know each other’s sense of humor a little better.  A “Congratulations” or “Good work” has so much more of an impact with a visual or animation to give it some personality. Sites like Giphy have a ton of fun GIFS to choose from.

Schedule Video Calls

Face to face communication is still extremely important when managing remote employees. There is so much context that is left out behind a keyboard and so much room opened up for miscommunication.  Body language and facial expressions also contribute to what makes us unique. We can learn a lot about each other by the way we present ourselves and communicate non-verbally. We prefer to use Zoom for all of our virtual meetings. We invested in a really cool 360-degree video conference camera that allows our remote members to view the whole room as if they are sitting with us at the conference table.  It’s been especially useful during our Quarterly All-Hands Meetings.

Create a Clear Communication Strategy

Communication can be one of the toughest aspects of managing remote teams. Other than the lack of face to face interaction, you may be dealing with time differences and schedule conflicts.  Dedicate specific hours, days, and channels for different types of communication. When the expectations are clear you can alleviate the pain of waiting around for responses and answers and keep productivity moving.  

Stay Goal-Oriented

It is near impossible to micromanage remote teams effectively. A better solution is to focus on the end goals at hand instead of the activity involved in getting there. Bringing on remote employees involves a high level of trust regardless of the position. Trust your remote members to do what they need to do in order to achieve the common goal. Revisit goals as much as necessary to ensure the vision is clear and schedule periodic updates to keep everyone on the same page.