The Ultimate Guide to Remote Workforce Management Success
Recent announcements from major companies like Amazon and Salesforce requiring employees to return to the office sparked concerns about disappearing remote work opportunities. However, it’s worth asking: are these headlines truly reflective of broader workplace trends?
Let’s face it: News outlets aren’t afraid of cherry-picking high-profile cases to generate clicks and appeal to anxieties of employees worried about being forced back to the office. The reality is remote work is here to stay—and employees want it that way. In fact, the search terms “remote work jobs” and “work from home jobs” continue to trend upward, signaling a strong interest among job seekers for these types of roles.
Prior to the pandemic, working from home was a relatively uncommon practice, making up only 5% of all workdays. Flash forward to today, it’s increasingly common for employees across all levels of the corporate hierarchy to work from home at least part of the week. As of January 2023, almost 30% of paid workdays take place at home, reflecting a significant shift in the way people want to work.
While remote work comes with numerous benefits like increased flexibility and better work-life balance, it also presents unique managerial challenges and requires a different administrative approach compared to leading on-site employees. So, we’ve compiled our top strategies for managing and building an engaged, productive remote team.
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Set Clear Expectations
Remote teams don’t have the same structure and boundaries as they would in an office setting, so it’s essential to communicate expectations clearly from the outset. Outline how frequently check-ins will occur, whether team members should update you before logging off, and how they should track their time.
While some managers prefer daily updates, others are content with a weekly debrief. Clearly defining what you expect from your remote team will prevent problems from arising in the future. As long as everyone is on the same page, your remote office can run smoothly.
Promote Productivity and Collaboration
It can be challenging to promote productivity and collaboration when you only see your team’s faces during video calls. However, there are several strategies managers can employ to keep remote workers engaged and productive.
Set clear, attainable goals and deadlines for your remote team. This provides structure and accountability, which can keep employees on track. Additionally, managers can use project management tools like Zoho Projects or Teamwork to assign tasks, track progress, and monitor deadlines.
Use video conferencing, chat, and collaboration software like Teams, Zoom, or Slack to encourage employees to work together. By promoting regular communication and collaboration, these tools help remote workers feel more connected to their team and collaborate more efficiently.
Working from home, especially alone, can feel isolating. There’s an illusion of talking to people, but you’re really just talking to people-shaped pixels. For some, this can feel more apparent unless their employer is exerting extra effort to prevent their people from feeling disconnected. Otherwise, productivity and morale can nosedive.
Combatting disengagement and miscommunication requires leaders to refine communication. You can start by establishing a communication strategy that employees can reference. Specify which types of problems warrant a group video call versus a brief message or email. Additionally, explain your expectations regarding timing and responsiveness, like how quickly you expect responses to emails during work hours or how often they should give updates about delays.
Set up regular check-ins with your remote team. Whether you’re grabbing a virtual coffee or strategizing on assignments, building connections solidifies trust. Consistent team meetings allow you to provide feedback, address concerns, and offer support, as well as simply get to know your employees.
Make sure to interact with your remote team members one-on-one daily, either through email, messaging platforms like Teams, phone calls, or video chats. Proactively engaging with employees can prevent disengagement and maintain high performance. Regular communication with each team member is an easy way to show you’re a reliable, genuine leader, and it fosters a sense of inclusion and motivation among your team.
Build a Strong Team Culture
Your team’s actions are guided by your overall company culture, which serves as a compass directing them toward success. It creates a framework for how the members of your company operates, communicates, and collaborates, regardless of their location or work schedule. Building a strong culture is crucial for helping remote workers feel connected to their team and motivated to work together effectively.
Make onboarding a priority for new team members. In their first few weeks, allow new hires to focus on going through the onboarding process, acclimating to their roles, and getting to know their teammates instead of diving fully into assignments. Effective onboarding will equip new employees with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the company, and it will quickly show them the kind of team culture they can expect down the line.
Regularly encourage employees to share their ideas and opinions with the rest of the team. When managers create an open environment where everyone’s voice is valued, remote workers feel more connected and motivated to contribute to your organization’s success.
Create opportunities for employees to socialize and connect with their team by planning virtual team-building activities, such as virtual happy hours, watercooler or “donut meetings,” book clubs, and virtual lunch-and-learns. Dedicated social times foster strong bonds among teammates, enabling them to develop personal connections and better collaborate.
Make Remote Arrangements Work for Everyone With Compliant Benefits
Remote work arrangements can trigger tax, labor law, and expense reimbursement issues for companies when their employees work in different states. It’s essential to research the legislation that applies to your team and confirm remote employees are receiving the same benefits as in-person workers so your company remains compliant.
Your business may need to register with relevant tax authorities, comply with local employment laws, reimburse for reasonable expenses, and track employee physical locations to assess compliance needs.
While it’s important to work closely with your HR or legal teams to confirm your company’s compliance, working with a staffing firm like iSphere can alleviate some of these issues as well. As your staffing partner, we would verify that all candidates we connect you with are properly registered, licensed (if applicable), and compliant with local laws and regulations. We can confirm remote workers are receiving the benefits they’re entitled to, help your company navigate compliance challenges, and make remote work arrangements work for everyone.
Success Is Possible with Remote Teams
With the right strategies and tools, you can effectively manage a remote team despite the unique challenges they present. The past few years have proven people can produce as effectively from their homes as they can from their dust-gathering cubicles—and solid leadership allows workers to thrive in any environment.
When you implement the strategies outlined here, working remotely can be a productive and rewarding experience for both managers and employees. Your support and guidance is the key to helping your remote team deliver their best work and thrive in your organization.
If you’re struggling to manage and grow a successful workforce, iSphere can help. Reach out to our team today, and together, we’ll build your organization a team that thrives no matter the working environment.