Even before the COVID19 pandemic sent thousands of workers back to their homes, remote work was already a growing trend in the tech industry.
While many businesses viewed remote work as only temporary, the reality is quite different. With vaccination efforts being slowed down considerably by lack of production and availability, it seems that remote working is here to stay.
Research shows that this trend will remain, even when vaccines become widely available. This gives an additional reason for your business to be prepared fully at managing remote teams.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways managers can increase remote employee engagement. In this article, we will go through some of the best strategies for managing remote employees and how to keep them happy and productive.
Let’s get started.
Employ technology to your advantage
While it may already be obvious to some, equipping and teaching your employees on how to use remote work tech is paramount to the remote teams’ success.
Before you even begin managing remote workers, you need to provide them with the technology that will help them communicate and share their work results in a streamlined manner.
First, make sure you provide your remote employees with computers and ensure they have access to fast internet. Additional materials such as webcams and headsets are also crucial tools.
Once the essentials are out of the way, you should focus on the software you will need for effectively managing remote employees:
- For video meetings: Google Meet, Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.
- For textual communication: Slack, Discord or Chanty (in addition to those previously mentioned)
- Team management software – Kanban, Asana, or Trello.
Your next step in managing remote employees effectively is to promote communication. Two-way dialogue between managers and employees ensures that communication efforts help, rather than hurt, engagement.
Research shows that employees’ understanding of organizations’ decisions and their implications during change is far more important for the success of a change initiative than employees’ “liking” the change.
Communicating the goals and defining the purpose of those outcomes is a crucial step in keeping your employees engaged while working remotely. Ensuring everyone knows the overall purpose and their role in achieving success is the basis of high-performance for remote teams.
Set clear rules of engagement
Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams.
For instance, you could use video conferencing for setting goals and objectives. On the other hand, instant messages can be used when urgent ideas and updates need to be conveyed.
Also, establish expectations on the best times of day for team members to reach their manager (maybe that’s you) and the manager to reach each team member.
This will allow for a more relaxed working day and fewer communication breakdowns between remote team members.
Build trust with your employees
One of the best strategies for managing remote employees is to begin trusting them.
Managers may be concerned and even frustrated to lose the constant visibility they once had into their employees. However, responding with micromanagement can only hurt your overall productivity.
It will only disengage and fatigue already stressed employees. Don’t fixate on perceived performance problems.
Instead, establish assessment and performance reward programs that will help you keep track of your objectives while simultaneously valuing your team’s efforts. Increasing recognition not only motivates the employee that is being rewarded but serves as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should emulate.
It’s an ongoing process that will slowly allow you to defocus from micromanagement and concentrate on the bigger picture.
Focus on results, not process
Focusing on results is a known strategy for increasing productivity and engagement, but it becomes even more important with remote teams.
In the remote landscape, where many people are juggling work and family commitments in their own homes. Allowing your employees to complete their work in their own manner will allow them to be more productive in the long run.
For instance, requiring a fixed check-in meeting every single day might not be possible for people that need to prepare meals for their children that are now home-schooled.
Providing flexibility, such as allowing your team members to report through emails, empowers teams to complete their assignments in their own way.
Stay vigilant of employee distress
Building empathy is not an easy thing to do when you are only contacting your employees through email and video calls. You aren’t present to feel their mood or get a sentiment of their overall motivation.
Furthermore, without the office culture, most workers have their communication limited to their tasks and goals within the company. This can lead to a feeling of loneliness and dread that is hard to detect.
It is crucial for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ anxieties and concerns, and empathize with their struggles.
You can try to alleviate this stress by organizing chill-out virtual meetings and encouraging remote social interactions. Yes, virtual happy hours are now a thing!
Remote work is clearly here to stay. Statistics show a growing trend and businesses and workers should be prepared to accept it. While employee motivation is important, managing remote employees effectively remains a challenge that any manager should be prepared to face.
While everything we talked about in this article requires time and commitment, the results will certainly pay off in the long run. Keeping your remote teams happy will benefit both the workers and the business as a whole.