Remote work is no longer a niche option for a few workers. It is a mainstream reality for millions of employees around the world. As the benefits of remote work become more evident, such as improved work-life balance, increased productivity, and reduced costs, more businesses are adopting remote and hybrid work models.
However, managing remote employees also poses some unique challenges and opportunities that require effective strategies and best business plans.
In this article, you will learn 10 effective strategies for managing remote employees that will help you optimize your remote work environment, foster collaboration and communication, and boost your team’s performance and satisfaction.
#1 Establish Clear and Frequent Communication
Communication is the key to any successful team, but it is especially important for remote employees. Without face-to-face interactions, remote workers can feel isolated, disconnected, and misunderstood.
That’s why managers need to establish clear and frequent communication channels with their remote employees and encourage them to share their feedback, concerns, and achievements.
Some ways to improve communication with employees are.
- Use a variety of tools, such as video calls, instant messaging, email, and phone calls, to suit different purposes and preferences.
- Schedule regular check-ins, both individually and as a group, to monitor progress, provide support, and build rapport.
- Set clear expectations and goals, and communicate them clearly and consistently.
- Provide timely and constructive feedback, and recognize and celebrate accomplishments.
- Create a culture of trust and transparency, and avoid micromanaging or overloading your remote employees.
Travis Kliever, Global Business Development Advisor at RemotePad, shares, ‘By communicating effectively with your employees, you can foster a sense of belonging, alignment, and engagement, and improve their performance and satisfaction.’
#2 Embrace Flexibility and Autonomy
One of the main benefits of remote work is the flexibility and autonomy it offers to employees. Saba Mobebpour, CEO at SPOCKET, said, ‘Remote workers can choose when, where, and how they work, according to their preferences and circumstances. This can lead to higher productivity, creativity, and well-being, as well as lower stress and turnover.’
However, flexibility and autonomy also come with challenges, such as managing time, distractions, and boundaries. That’s why managers need to embrace flexibility and autonomy for their remote employees and help them find their optimal work style.
Some ways to embrace flexibility and autonomy for employees are.
- Focus on Results, Not Hours: Instead of tracking how many hours your remote employees work — measure their output and outcomes. Allow them to work at their own pace and schedule, as long as they meet their deadlines and quality standards.
- Support Work-Life Balance: Encourage your remote employees to take breaks, exercise, and socialize. Respect their personal time and space, and avoid contacting them outside of their working hours.
- Empower Decision-Making: Give your employees the authority and resources to make decisions and solve problems on their own. Trust them to do their best, and avoid interfering or second-guessing their choices.
- Provide Learning Opportunities: Offer your remote employees access to training, coaching, and mentoring programs. Help them develop their skills and knowledge, and grow their careers.
With flexibility and autonomy for your employees, you can boost their motivation, confidence, and loyalty, and enhance their potential and value.
#3 Create a Sense of Community and Belonging
One of the challenges of managing remote employees is fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among them. These employees may feel isolated, disconnected, or out of sync with their colleagues, especially if they are working across different time zones, cultures, or languages. This can affect their motivation, engagement, and performance.
To overcome this challenge, you need to create opportunities for teamwork and collaboration. Here are some tips to do that.
- Use reliable and user-friendly tools that enable seamless communication and collaboration, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, cloud storage, and project management software.
- Establish regular check-ins and meetings with your team, and make sure everyone has a chance to speak, share, and contribute. Use these meetings to align on goals, expectations, progress, feedback, and challenges.
- Encourage informal and social interactions among your team members, such as virtual coffee breaks, happy hours, games, or icebreakers. These can help build rapport, trust, and camaraderie among your remote employees.
- Create a shared vision and culture for your team, and communicate it clearly and consistently. Make sure your employees understand and embrace your team’s values, norms, and expectations.
- Recognize and celebrate your team’s achievements, milestones, and successes. Show appreciation and gratitude for your remote employees’ efforts and contributions
This way, you can create a positive and productive work environment for your employees, and help them feel more connected, engaged, and valued.
#4 Leverage the Power of Technology
Technology is the backbone of remote work, as it enables remote employees to communicate, collaborate, and access information. However, technology can also pose challenges, such as technical issues, security risks, or information overload. Eran Mizrahi, CEO of Ingredient Brothers, adds, ‘Managers need to leverage the power of technology for their remote employees, and help them use it effectively and efficiently.’
You can leverage the power of technology for your employees.
- Provide them with the right tools, such as cloud-based platforms, project management software, or video conferencing apps, that suit their needs and preferences.
- Train them on how to use the tools, and offer them technical support and troubleshooting, to ensure that they can work smoothly and confidently.
- Implement security measures, such as encryption, passwords, or VPNs, to protect your remote employees’ data and devices from cyberattacks or breaches.
- Manage information flow, and avoid sending unnecessary or irrelevant messages or notifications, to prevent your remote employees from feeling overwhelmed or distracted.
#5 Provide Training and Development Opportunities
The best way to manage your remote employees is to invest in their training and development. These employees may face some challenges in learning new skills, staying updated on industry trends, or accessing professional networks. By providing them with training and development opportunities, you can help them overcome these challenges, and also show them that you care about their growth and career, said Martin Seeley, CEO of Mattress Next Day.
Some of the training and development opportunities that you can provide for your remote employees are.
- Online courses, webinars, podcasts, or e-books that are relevant to their roles, interests, or goals.
- Mentorship or coaching programs that connect them with experienced professionals who can offer guidance, feedback, and support.
- Virtual conferences, workshops, or networking events allow them to learn from experts, peers, or industry leaders.
- Internal projects, assignments, or initiatives that challenge them to apply their skills, learn new ones, or collaborate with other team members.
- Feedback and performance reviews that help them identify their strengths, areas of improvement, and career aspirations.
#6 Have Some Fun
Managing remote employees doesn’t have to be all work and no play. In fact, having some fun with your employees can be a great way to boost their morale, engagement, and creativity. Plus, it can help you build a stronger relationship with them, and make them feel more like a part of the team, adds Ken Jar, Financial Expert at Money Advisor.
So, how can you have some fun with your remote employees? Well, there are many ways to do that, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Play some online games with them, such as trivia, bingo, or charades. You can use platforms like Kahoot, Jackbox, or Houseparty to host these games.
- Host a virtual talent show, where your remote employees can showcase their skills, hobbies, or passions. You can have categories like singing, dancing, cooking, or magic, and give out prizes for the best performances.
- Organize a virtual scavenger hunt, where your employees have to find and share items or clues related to your company, industry, or culture. You can use tools like GooseChase, Scavify, or ClueKeeper to create and manage these hunts, said Andy Gillin, Attorney at GJEL Accident Attorneys.
- Have a virtual happy hour, where your employees can relax, chat, and enjoy a drink or snack of their choice. You can make it more fun by having a theme, such as a costume party, a karaoke night, or a trivia night.
#7 Trust Your Employees & Let Them Know It
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, and this is especially true for manager-employee relationships. When you trust your employees, you show them that you respect their abilities, judgment, and integrity. When your employees trust you, they show you that they are committed, loyal, and accountable, said Jonathan Rosenfeld, Founder & Attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC.
To build trust with your remote employees, you need to do the following.
- Delegate tasks and responsibilities to your remote employees, and avoid micromanaging them. Give them the autonomy and authority to make decisions and solve problems on their own.
- Communicate your expectations and goals to your employees, and provide them with the resources and support they need to achieve them. Give them constructive feedback and recognition for their work.
- Be transparent and honest with your remote employees, and share relevant information and updates with them. Admit your mistakes and apologize when necessary.
- Show interest and care for your remote employees, and ask them how they are doing, feeling, or coping. Respect their personal and professional boundaries, and accommodate their needs and preferences.
#8 Support Well-Being and Work-Life Balance
Managing remote employees doesn’t have to be all about work and results. In fact, supporting your remote employees’ well-being and work-life balance can be a great way to boost their health, happiness, and creativity. Plus, it can help you build a stronger empathy and compassion with them, and make them feel more cared for and respected.
Here’s how you can do this.
- Encourage your remote employees to take breaks, exercise, and rest. You can use tools like Calm, Headspace, or Fitbit to help them practice mindfulness, meditation, or fitness.
- Respect your remote employees’ boundaries, and avoid contacting them outside their work hours, unless it’s urgent. Ritika Asrani, Owner and Broker of Century21 St Maarten Real Estate, shares, ‘You can use tools like Clockify, RescueTime, or Focusmate to help employees track their work time and avoid distractions.’
- Show interest in your remote employees’ personal lives, and ask them how they are doing, feeling, or coping. You can use tools like TinyPulse, Officevibe, or Culture Amp to help them share their feedback, concerns, or suggestions.
- Offer your employees some perks, benefits, or incentives that can improve their well-being and work-life balance. You can use tools like Fringe, Compt, or Zestful to help them choose from various options, such as wellness programs, online courses, or gift cards.
#9 Keep Your Remote Employees Informed and Updated
One of the challenges of managing remote employees is ensuring that they have access to the latest and most relevant information about the organization, the industry, and the customers. Often, remote employees complain they don’t know what’s going on in the background, so this makes them slow.
To keep your remote employees informed and updated, follow these steps. This can help them stay on top of their work, make better decisions, and deliver higher-quality results.
- Share important news and announcements with your remote employees, such as changes in policies, strategies, or goals. You can use tools like email, chat, or video to communicate these messages effectively.
- Provide your remote employees with the resources and tools they need to access and update information, such as databases, dashboards, or reports. You can use tools like Dropbox, OneDrive, or SharePoint to store and share these files securely.
- Encourage your remote employees to seek and share information with their colleagues, managers, and customers. You can use tools like Slack, Yammer, or Workplace to facilitate online discussions and knowledge sharing.
- Educate your remote employees on how to evaluate and use information critically and ethically. You can use tools like Coursera, Udemy, or edX to offer online courses or webinars on information literacy and data analysis.
#10 Make them Feel Valued and Appreciated
Managing remote employees helps you tap into a diverse and talented pool of workers who can bring value and innovation to your organization. Olivia Rutman, Founder & CEO at Kids Care Finder, ‘Making your remote employees feel valued and appreciated can help them stay motivated, loyal, and productive.’
Here’s how you can make your remote employees feel valued and appreciated.
- Recognize and reward your remote employees for their achievements, contributions, and improvements. You can use tools like Bonusly, Kudos, or Nectar to send them points, badges, or gifts that they can redeem for various perks or benefits.
- Solicit and act on your remote employees’ feedback, opinions, and suggestions. You can use tools like TinyPulse, Officevibe, or Culture Amp to collect, analyze, and respond to their feedback in a timely and constructive manner.
- Involve your remote employees in decision-making processes that affect their work, roles, or goals. You can use tools like Loomio, Poll Everywhere, or Slido to facilitate online voting and polling on various issues or topics.
- Empower your remote employees to take ownership and initiative in their work, and support them with the resources and guidance they need. You can use tools like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp to manage their projects and tasks, and provide them with regular feedback and coaching.
Managing remote employees can be challenging, but also rewarding. You can create a positive and productive work environment for your employees by following some simple tips.
For example, you can communicate frequently, collaborate efficiently, and engage and motivate your remote employees. You can also make them feel more connected, valued, and appreciated by recognizing their achievements, soliciting their feedback, and involving them in decision-making processes.
Remote work is not a trend, but a reality. By managing your employees effectively, you can adapt to this reality and thrive in it.
Effectively managing remote employees involves clear communication, defined expectations, and regular check-ins through video calls and team meetings. Utilize reliable technology tools, provide necessary resources, and establish a clear remote work policy. Encourage autonomy and a healthy work-life balance. Foster team bonds through virtual activities, set performance metrics, and recognize achievements. Offer training opportunities and promote inclusivity. Be flexible with working hours and arrangements to accommodate individual needs.