According to one estimate, nearly 36.2 million Americans could work remotely by 2025, reducing commuter miles by 70 to 140 billion annually. Moreover, 74% of 2,050 full-time remote workers said working from home feels better for their mental health. This means that the remote work that came with the pandemic is only here to stay.
As a manager, you might find managing your remote employees difficult, primarily when you are used to seeing them in person daily at the office. But since remote work is not going anywhere, you should consider learning new ways to manage today’s remote teams.
This article will first discuss some advantages and disadvantages of remote employees. And then, we will look at six tips to make managing distributed workforce easier.
In simple terms, if your employees are spread across various locations and work from there, you have a remote workforce. These employees could be working from the comfort of their homes and may visit your office facilities once in a while, or they could be spread across different countries and work 100% digitally.
Just like anything else, having a global remote workforce has benefits as well as challenges. Let us look at some of them here –
We all know how important having a good work-life balance is to stay stress-free. Working remotely allows employees to have that. They don’t have to spend long hours in commute or worry about the clothes they will wear the next day to work. The remote workforce enjoys the comfort of their home and working in their comfortable clothes. They get more time to spend with their family, friends, and even with themselves, and all of this adds to a good work-life balance.
For many employees, remote work means an imbalanced work-life. Work can quickly take over personal life if there are no boundaries. It can start with replying to just one email after work hours or trying to finish the task at hand even if the work hours are over. All this can make a typical work day last for more than 10 hours leading to an imbalanced work-life and a stressed and exhausted remote workforce.
Remote employees enjoy the flexibility that comes with remote work. They have the option to work from their home or a coffee shop, and they can even work while sitting on a beach. Having flexible work hours only adds to the benefit as some night owls can finish their work at night. This flexibility also enables employers to attract candidates while hiring.
Having flexibility sounds all fun until the distractions that come with it start hampering productivity. Ringing doorbells, dogs asking you to play with them, and household chores are just some distractions that can take away all your productivity.
Having a global remote workforce spread across cities and countries means you get to work with people from various cultures and backgrounds. Such a diverse team makes collaborative projects exciting as everyone brings something unique to the table. Besides, working with an international team helps employees develop a cultural understanding which allows them to value different points of view.
When the pandemic hit and everyone was forced to work remotely, communication and collaboration were the managers’ top concerns. It meant that the managers couldn’t just walk up to their employees’ desks to take an update and had to schedule virtual meetings to discuss routine projects. Virtual communication also took away the chance to bond with employees and develop an understanding.
When a business allows remote work, it shows that it is concerned about its employees’ well-being and enables them to work from their time and place of comfort. It is a major benefit when HRs are trying to fill vacant positions. It also allows the HRs to hire skilled candidates from different locations when fewer local candidates are available.
Remote work can soon become a disadvantage if the employees are left on their own and the management doesn’t take any effort to connect with them and understand their challenges. It can make the employees feel disconnected and isolated from the company and can also become a reason for employees to resign.
Also Read: Top 44 Remote Working Tools you need to work from anywhere
To not the advantages of having a remote workforce become a disadvantage and hamper the growth of employees and business, you need to know effective ways to manage remote workforce. Managing a remote workforce can be tricky, especially for traditional managers. Here are some tips that can help you manage your remote employees and increase their productivity –
Your employees could be distressed because of problems in and out of the workplace. Working long hours, not taking entitled time off, withdrawing from collaborative projects, and shying away from speaking in meetings could be some of the signs that you should be on the lookout for. Directly talk to your employees or have indirect observations to understand the challenges your employees might be facing. Use every opportunity to show them that you support and care for them.
Giving your remote employees phones and laptops is not enough. If they are supposed to attend virtual meetings, ensure they have a proper camera, mic, and headphones. Depending on the role, they will need more hardware such as a hard disk, printer, scanner, or desktop. Your job doesn’t end after providing the employees with these tools; you also need to ensure that they learn to use them efficiently.
Employees who are trusted and not supervised or micromanaged at every second feel valued and engaged. This trust allows the employees to work flexibly without being stressed out. They are also more vocal in the team and feel comfortable communicating their point or discussing the challenges they may be facing. This trust also helps the team to bond and makes working on collaborative projects easy. When you trust your employees and don’t bother about the loss of visibility on them, you allow them to be responsible and productive.
Instead of focusing on process, focus on results and outputs. Give your employees the flexibility to work on their own time. In this virtual culture, we all are juggling work and family commitments. So you may have to eliminate your early morning calls or make the approval workflows shorter so that your employees get the flexibility they need to fulfill all their responsibilities and get the assignments done.
Recognition is one of the biggest motivational factors. When employees are recognized for their efforts, it makes them feel valued in the company. At the same time, it encourages the rest of the team members to do better. Since working remotely comes with a fear of feeling disconnected, recognizing employees and their efforts in virtual town halls or team chats and giving them a token of appreciation can instantly boost their morale.
By encouraging innovation, you help remote employees stay engaged as they get to work on something new other than their regular jobs. They can also innovate new ways of doing their day-to-day jobs more efficiently. This process helps employees to develop a risk-taking attitude. On the other hand, you should ensure that employees’ successes are shared with the whole team so that others get motivated and safety plans are in place in case their innovative projects fail.
Having a global remote workforce has its advantages and disadvantages. But it’s up to your skills in managing them that will ensure your remote employees feel valued, supported, and included. This, in turn, will ensure that these employees are productive and contribute to the business’ growth. Therefore, take deliberate steps to stay connected with your employees, not just on a professional level but also on a personal level, to understand them and trust that they are doing their job in the best way they know.
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