This is a guest post by Caroline Black.
More and more, businesses are turning to a remote employee set up. There are countless advantages to having your team work from home, including significant savings in office costs for your company, as well as a greater level of employee satisfaction that often leads to a better quality of work.
However, it’s most certainly not enough to pack up your staff and send them home. Managing a group of remote workers is something that requires skill, finesse and an altered way of thinking to account for the technological age. These five points are essential for creating a thriving out-of-office workspace. Some may seem basic, others something you’d never have considered, but together they hold the recipe for success.
1) Hold Down Your End
This point is simple but needs to be expressed in so many words. The first ingredient for a successful off-site team is to ensure that, at the management end, all of your systems are in place and functional. This means knowing what virtual platforms you are going to use, how payroll is going to work and when and how you’re going to hold meetings. However, this is just the first step. There also needs to be a comprehensive contingency plan in place as well.
If a meeting has to be canceled because you can’t get Skype to work or accounts breached because your security practices were too sloppy, it is not going to inspire and motivate the team members who have to deal with the repercussions. Fortunately, there are many great apps to optimize these processes, and building a security system is easy once considered. Alongside an anti-virus and firewall setup, it’s recommended you run a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever accessing sensitive online documents, particularly on insecure public WiFi networks. This Secure Thoughts review has additional information on this if you want to find out more.
2) Remember Communication Is Key
One of the biggest challeng
es of managing remote workers is the lack of a work environment. What many fail to realize is that working on a physical site helps create an atmosphere, encourages colleagues to bond and advocates a more adhesive team vision. Without finding a way to replicate this process online, a company can very soon fall apart. Because of this, opening up as many communication channels as possible is essential.
However, this means more than simply exchanging Skype details. There are numerous pieces of software designed for team liaison on many different levels. Alongside great scheduling apps where you can discuss projects, Slack provides a fantastic platform for interdepartmental communication, questions and queries or just social interactions. Review software, such as 15Five, gives team members a chance to look back and reflect on the management and the way they work. The latter is a fantastic way to keep up with employee feedback, as it’s much harder to observe employee satisfaction when you aren’t in the office.
3) Honor the Remote Worker
It’s unarguable that one of the main reasons employees opt for remote positions is the flexibility it affords them. Often, they are travelers, parents or even less physically able, and this is the reason they plan careers based from their own home. Unfortunately, this is something many managers fail to realize. We’ve already established employee satisfaction is a big player in the quality of work, so failing to honor the needs of your remote employees will undo all the benefits that working in this way affords.
This means if you attempt to instill rigorous work schedules, refuse to be flexible with deadlines and meeting times, and do not make efforts to understand and factor in the needs of each employee, you’ll very soon have an extremely unmotivated team. Times are changing, and what workers want is now very different. Flexibility is becoming increasingly important, so it’s essential that it feature in your management action plan.
4) Manage By Objectives
On the other hand, honoring flexibility doesn’t have to mean sacrificing progress. One key variation between office management and virtual management is the way you, as the employer, deal with observing and assessing your employees’ abilities and evolvement. Traditionally, overseeing and discussing these elements while at work would do this; unfortunately, it isn’t a practice that can be followed online.
Because of this, it’s much more efficient to consider an objective-based progress report. Goal setting is essential for quality output, and nowhere is this truer than when managing employees online. The more opportunities you have to brainstorm goals and action plans and the more feedback or complaint outlets you install, the better the understanding you will have of how your team is working—both collaboratively and independently. There are a few applications that will support this process mentioned above, but this point can also be applied when considering meeting agendas or even work feedback content.
5) Consider Incentives
An obvious yet undeniably effective way to encourage involvement and enthusiasm in the goal-setting process is to create a reward-based system when goals are achieved successfully and punctually. While a cash bonus is an obvious first option, there are other ways to do this if your company isn’t financially fluid enough to spare the money.
By giving the most dedicated employees more say in their work, you will find they immediately become more passionate about completing it to a high standard. This could be in the form of allowing workers to choose the tasks they wish to work on, come up with new projects and ideas or simply by allowing them a greater role in the company handling. People care most about things they feel like they’ve put a part of themselves into, so this is a great way to increase motivation and build a stronger and more successful remote team.
Once you’ve created a proficient management system for your remote workers, the benefits you will find are boundless. There are many great resources out there to help you along the way, so if it’s something you’ve never thought about before, then now is the time to investigate more!
About the Author
Caroline is a technology and security blogger and manager of a great online team. She’s a major advocate for employee happiness and loves finding innovative applications to streamline her online business procedures. You can find more of her writing at www.securethoughts.com.