The nature of work is changing. According to surveys, more employees are working from home or other remote locations to at least some degree throughout the average year.
This is a natural development. It can also be a beneficial one. Now that technology allows workers to complete certain essential tasks from virtually anywhere, you don’t have to limit yourself to candidates who live near (or will relocate to) your office when hiring employees. You can simply choose the best person for the job.
That said, managing a remote team is obviously a unique experience. When you don’t share an office space with your employees, you can’t check in on them as regularly as you otherwise might.
You may need to adjust your management strategy accordingly. Even if you don’t manage a remote team now, you might in the future. Prepare for this by keeping the following essential points in mind.
Emphasize Training & Onboarding
It’s always important to thoroughly train and onboard new hires. People are simply more likely to thrive when you prepare them for their roles.
However, workers don’t always immediately grasp all aspects of their jobs. This may not be an issue when they report to an office. If they’re struggling with a certain task during their early days at a company, they can simply ask a supervisor or employee for further clarification.
That’s not always an option when someone is working remotely. Thus, you need to develop training and onboarding protocols that may be more thorough than the protocols used for new employees who will be working from your office.
Ideally, remote employees will still be able to report to a central location for their initial training. If that’s not an option, look into tech solutions. For example, many major companies now use virtual reality to train employees. This is an option to consider when onboarding a remote team.
Schedule Regular Meetings
Providing employees with regular feedback is key to engagement. In fact, according to one survey, most workers would like to receive more feedback than they currently do.
This is particularly crucial to remember when managing a remote team. You’re not going to have many opportunities to randomly check in with an employee when you work from different parts of the country or globe. To ensure all members of your team are receiving enough feedback to thrive, set aside time each week to meet with them through video chat. Ask for updates on their progress, comment on their performance, and make sure you give them time to ask any questions they may have of you.
Clearly Establish Expectations
Again, employees don’t always clearly understand how to complete certain tasks. That’s why effective training is so important.
However, even seasoned workers experience days (or weeks) when they feel they don’t completely understand what they should be working on, what they are expected to achieve by the end of the day, or what tasks they are supposed to prioritize.
Solving this problem is easy in an office setting. A worker can simply knock on your door to discuss the topic. When your team is dispersed, they have fewer chances to get in touch.
Yes, you can answer emails and calls, but ideally, you want your team members to work as independently as possible. You can achieve this goal by thoroughly setting clear expectations at key stages.
How you go about doing this will depend on the nature of your employees’ schedules and your overall processes. For instance, some managers may find it’s best to establish expectations when an employee starts a new project. Some find it’s better to connect at the beginning of the week, discussing what an employee is supposed to achieve that week. You may have to test various methods before you find an approach that’s perfect for you and your team.
Don’t overlook this! Polls show workers are less likely to be engaged when they don’t know what’s expected of them.
You also shouldn’t plan on mastering remote team management immediately. Remind yourself that you’re learning an entirely new set of skills. By remembering these points and learning from the experience, you’ll develop the ability to manage employees no matter where they work from.