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6 Tips for Effectively Managing Remote Workers

Managing remote workers is a challenge that many businesses have had to get accustomed to over the last few years.

Now that COVID-19 has forced large swaths of the working population to conduct their daily working lives from their own homes, it’s absolutely essential that organizations learn how to effectively manage remote workers from afar.

63% of company departments have at least one person who works remotely for a significant amount of time, but 57% of businesses have no formal work-from-home policies

With many organizations not having plans in place for remote workspace management, business leaders have had to scramble to put policies in place for their employees to ensure their operations are not significantly interrupted.

Here’s our 6 tips for making sure you’re doing everything you need to be to keep your teams performing successfully in these uncertain times.

1. Set Expectations

If your business doesn’t typically have remote workers, or has very few, you may not have any kind of formal agreement as to what you expect from employees out of the office.

The first thing you should do when managing remote workers is to set clear expectations for them and for you:

  • Are working hours the same, or flexible?
  • How quickly should workers be responding to emails that don’t have specific deadlines?
  • What are their goals and how are they being held accountable?

2. Ensure They Have the Necessary Resources

With workforces now at home, one of the more obvious obstacles to navigate for businesses is making sure that everybody has the necessary resources they need to perform their job.

This is primarily about hardware and software, for example:

  • Is their laptop powerful enough to run the software they need?
  • Do they access to the software they need?
  • If they need a VPN for security, do they have access to one?

Also consider whether they might need any additional equipment to make them more comfortable—like an ergonomic chair, a monitor, or any other peripheries they may not already have at home.

Related Post: 6 Remote Work Considerations for SMBs

3. Meet Regularly

In a typical office environment, you’ll have the opportunity to check-in with whomever you want within the first few hours of being there.

Remote work by definition completely removes these interactions. While it may have made sense to have weeklies at the office, you need more communication to keep it up outside of it.

Loneliness, along with communication and collaboration, is the primary struggle for remote workers, with 20% of them citing it as a concern

Consider scheduling daily check-ins with your team or individuals, even if it’s just to quickly catchup on the day’s projects for a few minutes. Isolation and loneliness are common in this environment and this is a simple and effective way of addressing that.

4. Turn Your Cameras On!

In addition to meeting regularly, encourage the use of video conferencing as a method of communication among your teams.

While audio conference calls have been the norm for years, switching your cameras on helps enormously in employee interactions.

Body language and non-verbal communication are important aspects of interaction that are completely removed with audio conferencing, and you’ll get other benefits too with a video-first approach.

This includes giving people a good reason to get dressed and prepared and discouraging them to join the call and remain silent in the background while they do other things—a lot simpler on an audio-only meeting. It may sound simple, but many employees will struggle to adjust, so doing everything you can to get them in work-mode is crucial.

82% of video users are less likely to multitask (as compared to just audio)

5. Invest If You Need To

Don’t assume that people who have been working in office settings for years, perhaps decades, will suddenly transfer to a work-from-home setting and be immediately comfortable.

Make sure that employees know what to use and how to use it, and try not to complicate or confuse matters by having a jumbled variety of different solutions for them to use.

Managing remote workers effectively means making the transition as seamless as possible—of course nothing will be exactly like a real office, but with the right tools you can get pretty close.

More importantly, don’t assume that the tech you’re using is necessarily up to the task at hand.

Did you know, for example, that neither Google Hangouts nor Slack has end-to-end encryption?

For many enterprises, being sure that their data security is watertight is the most vital consideration, so investing in the right solutions wouldn’t be a bad idea, to put it lightly.

6. Engage Teams

Loneliness is emotional, isolation is structural.

Many workers now find themselves in an imposed structure of complete isolation and it’s up to employers to mitigate this as much as possible.

That office space that you spent months making sure it’s the perfect collaborative space? That’s gone.

Instead, you must use the tools and people at your disposal to bring your remote workers together on projects—after all, collaboration is essential for driving workplace performance.

Teams that work collaboratively spend 64% more time on a task than those going solo

This takes a lot of time and attention, so make sure you check in on people regularly, update their schedules, and purposefully involve workers on projects that require collaboration.

This is especially important if you have anybody new on your staff or someone who’s not used to working remotely. The main objective here is to avoid siloing at all costs.

Just as we place so much emphasis on avoiding the siloing of departments, now that same challenge has come to the individual level.

In light of recent events, many organizations have found themselves playing catchup, trying to implement makeshift digital solutions to make up lost ground while their workforces transition to remote work for the immediate future. 

Impact Networking has been in the business of helping SMBs for over 20 years, and our solutions for remote work are used successfully by our customers every day. Learn more about how cloud solutions can help you by reading our eBook, “Which Cloud Option Is Right For Your Business?”