How to Manage Your Employees Better Remotely

Improving your remote employee management, even when your team is super-loaded with work
How to Manage Your Employees Better Remotely
Carl Torrence

Managing employees has never been an easy feat, and it’s getting more challenging as more companies around the world adopt either remote or hybrid work models. While the companies happily adopted this work model when the pandemic started, most of them still viewed this set-up as temporary. Obviously we’ve all realised it’s here to stay.

90% of HR leaders said that employees would be allowed to work remotely even after COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.

Now, around 16% of companies exclusively hire remote workers. Companies like Coinbase announced they are becoming a remote-first company while Atlassian and Twitter announced their employees can work from home, forever.

At this point, we can safely say that the future of work is remote or hybrid.

On one side of remote work, we have employees falling in love with this work model as it gives them the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere and at any time. On the other hand, we have employers, leaders, and managers who have to deal with a completely new set of problems in managing remote teams.

Some common challenges faced while managing a remote team

  • Communicating with the entire team and keeping everyone on the same page
  • Tracking team’s productivity and quality of work
  • Building a positive and engaging remote culture
  • Building trust
  • Morale boosting
  • Social isolation

On top of everything, managers and HR leaders have to make sure all their team members have the required support to deal with the emotional roller coaster that we’ve all been on since this pandemic started.

The best way to manage remote teams is to have clear remote-work policies and proper training in place, but owing to the rapid changes in the circumstances, it’s quite impossible to be this prepared.

So, let’s explore some specific, research-based ways to manage remote employees better, especially when they are super-loaded with work.

5 Ways to Manage Remote Employees Better

1) Non-intrusive Daily Check-ins

Proactively and positively communicating can solve almost 90% of the issues and problems you face in day-to-day operations. Scheduling daily check-ins with your team members can help you gain a better understanding of their daily work life and any obstacles they might be facing in order to finish their tasks.

Daily check-ins might make your team feel like they are being micromanaged, so make sure you are keeping these check-ins super casual and non-intrusive.

Use video conferencing tools to establish a personal touch, which is the key to successfully managing people. Lastly, make sure they don’t feel like they will be criticised when giving updates on their work progress in these daily check-ins.

Pro Tip: Start with daily check-ins but keep taking feedback from your team about the frequency of such check-ins. Based on their feedback, manage the frequency of your check-ins. Two-way communication is always better than one-way communication.

2) Equip Employees

Give your employees the tools, software, and technology they need to succeed in their jobs.

When we say tools, we mean more than just a laptop and a phone.

For example, if you expect your team members to give updates the progress of their work at the end of their working day, then make sure you have a robust project management or collaboration tool in place that allows them to update trackable progress in a matter of minutes. You shouldn’t expect them to follow outdated methods of tracking progress such as using Excel sheets or to-do lists, which are usually time-consuming and ineffective.

So, for your team to function remotely, you’ll have to equip them with the right tools.

You don’t necessarily need state-of-the-art high-end tools, as long as the tools work for you and your team.

If required, you can outsource some work to third-party agencies. For example, if your marketing team wants to focus on creating content, then outsource your SEO work to an India-based digital marketing agency or a USA-based digital marketing agency according to your preference and location.

The other option is to train your employees in-house and provide them with the necessary resources on SEO, Shopify SEO (if you’re running an e-commerce business), creating content, basic WordPress skills, etc.

This way they’ll be less burdened and the output would be quality-driven rather than quantity driven.

Pro Tip: Don’t just assume that every one of your team members is comfortable with remote working. Make sure you train them for remote working in order to boost their confidence and morale about working remotely.

3) Adapt & Reinforce Holistic Organizational Values

Companies have spent a great deal of resources and efforts in creating an environment and a set of values that help them make their employees feel valued and celebrated. It’s always been a priority for companies like these to create exceptional experiences for their employees while they are associated with them.

Shifting to a remote work model might have impacted the ways you communicate your organizational values with your employees.

Make sure to reinforce your values positively among your employees.

Pro Tip: During times of crisis, the organizations that adapt to the changing circumstances always have happier and productive employees. So, make sure you are discarding the obsolete values and adapting the ones that are apt for the future of work.

4) Inhale Outputs, Exhale Processes

Let go of all the redundant parts of your processes and remove unnecessary bureaucratic processes from your operations altogether.

The more complex the flow of work is, the less productive your employees will be.

Making things simpler for your employees will set them up for success and help them focus on output rather than the processes. While working remotely, everyone is trying to juggle between work and family commitments.

Having a lengthy approval process or conducting meetings at 9 AM might not be productive.

Try to schedule meetings at mutually agreeable times, give them breathing space between deadlines, and use virtual tools to collaborate effectively. Giving your employees more flexibility is an enabler.

5) Encourage Dialogue and Innovation

By encouraging two-way dialogue among managers, employees, and peers, you are building a safe space for all your employees to discuss new ideas & perspectives, and solve problems creatively.

This not only makes a positive impact on their mental health but it also encourages innovation, creativity, and collaboration at a company level.

A few simple ways you can encourage dialogue and innovation:

  • Ask for feedback.
  • Make suggestions by building on team members’ ideas.
  • Asking questions for more clarity encourages your team members to think from all angles.
  • Look for common ground while giving feedback. Also, be constructive rather than destructive while giving feedback.
  • Give your employees opportunities to be more innovative, but also give them safety nets in case of potential failure.

Managing and Communicating Expectations

Managing and clearly communicating expectations to your employees has become more important in the current environment. Setting unrealistic expectations can drastically lower their morale and might affect their mental health.

So, make sure you are being realistic and specific with your expectations and, if possible, communicate the priorities so your employees know where to focus their energies.

Make sure you are being realistic and specific with your expectations.

Most importantly, be empathetic in your approach while managing remote employees, as it’s quite easy to misunderstand or misjudge situations and people when you mostly communicate through email and instant messages as opposed to face to face.

About the Author

Carl Torrence is a Content Marketer at Marketing Digest. His core expertise lies in developing data-driven content for brands, SaaS businesses, and agencies. In his free time, he enjoys binge-watching time-travel movies and listening to Linkin Park and Coldplay albums in the loop.

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