It’s a different world than it was 20 years ago. The Internet and advancing technology have created an increasingly digitalized and globalized workplace. More and more companies now have employees who telecommute at least part of the time. Others have an entirely virtual workforce. In order to pull this off successfully, it’s essential to properly manage remote employees.
1. Set Clear Expectations
All employees should understand what’s expected of them, but it’s especially important for virtual staff members. Considering that they’re not physically with you in your workplace, there is a stronger likelihood that they’ll get off track. Some key areas to cover include:
- Daily tasks
- Expected productivity and output
- Top priorities
- Company standards
- Performance metrics
2. Use Efficient Communication Tools
One of the biggest problems for employers are communication breakdowns. The potential for confusion and misunderstandings is automatically increased with a virtual working arrangement. Fortunately, there are a variety of communication tools that can bridge the gap and keep everyone on the same page. Some platforms to consider include:
3. Set Aside Time to Video Chat
It’s generally recognized that roughly 55 percent of communication is nonverbal and relies on body language. You can manage remote employees more effectively by making it a habit to video chat with them periodically. This doesn’t need to be every day or even every week, but regular chats should help improve communication. Besides Skype, there are other free alternatives like FaceTime and Google Hangouts.
4. Track Their Progress
Since you’re not working together in the same office, it’s a little trickier to see how a remote employee is coming along with a project. Are they staying on track or have they fallen behind? You need an efficient way to check in on them to see their progress. A tool like HiveDesk is perfect for this. It allows you to see when remote employees check in and out and monitor their efficiency. It will even capture screenshots to gauge their productivity.
5. Create a Sense of Team Unity
Even though you and your employees may never actually see each other face-to-face, it doesn’t mean you can’t establish camaraderie. This is important because building rapport can facilitate better collaboration, instill a sense of loyalty and help you retain your top workers. Some ways to create team unity is to send out company-wide newsletters and use team messaging apps (like Slack). You may even want to set up a digital hub like a forum where team members can communicate and share their thoughts and opinions.
The concept of telecommuting is spreading like wildfire and is only going to increase as we move deeper into the 21st century. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “In 2015, 23 percent of employees reported doing some of their work remotely, up from 19 percent in 2003.” As an employer, it’s vital that you understand how to effectively manage remote employees. These five strategies should enable you to build stronger relationships, improve communication and get the most out of your virtual team.