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Managing Remote Employees

We’re witnessing a huge increase in the number of people working remotely. This trend has proven to be a win/win as it is efficient and cost effective for many companies while also providing flexibility and opportunity for employees. Also, experts from various fields can now look for a job in places that they would never be able to commute to.

However, there are many issues that have arisen with the emergence of remote working, such as organizing staff meetings or supervising employees who work from home. Many companies have been dealing with such issues for years now, and their experience is something that could benefit others who have employees working remotely.

Those companies that are successful at solving similar issues testify to the fact that a company can exist, grow and thrive without necessarily having traditional offices. So, let’s look at the most important aspects of managing remote employees that can help you make the most of the situation.

Stay goal-oriented

Having employees working in an office where you have direct control of their work may be beneficial in many aspects, but it is also potentially very misleading. Namely, your opinion of a colleague will include elements that have very little to do with the most important aspect of their work – productivity.

For example, you’re bound to notice if an employee is a bit late or looks untidy and you’ll already start judging them. However, a scruffy-looking colleague may be the one who achieves great results and is among the most productive employees.

Not being distracted by things unrelated to the main objective of your business makes you more focused on productivity, which is the crucial aspect of any business.

Establish a monitoring system

Though you may not have all employees physically present at the head office, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check in on them on a regular basis. Many companies don’t know how to track employee attendance unless the employees clock-in every time they come to work.

Luckily, the development of IT has made it quite easy to establish a system that will allow companies to track and manage employee attendance, while at the same time remaining focused on productivity. Conference calls and video conferences can also be used to build a team spirit and discuss plans and challenges ahead, while various platforms can provide all the necessary information about the work of employees.

Establish channels of communication

It’s vital to have functional communication channels with all the employees, especially if they work from remote locations. The fact that you don’t have an opportunity to talk to them face-to-face is also a chance to deprive your communication of everything that is not work-related and relevant to the task, thus making it much more efficient.

Please remember that just like you need to have such a channel to know that you can contact your employee who is working from home, it’s equally important to them to know that they can reach you when they need some instructions or clarifications. Another important thing to know is that you need to choose those channels carefully, so that they fit the purpose. For instance, short exchanges of information are best done using e-mail, while Skype or phone calls are more appropriate for longer and more complex conversations.

Make them feel part of the team

You can imagine that one might feel quite isolated working in a remote environment, with no-one to chat to. They might also feel that what they’re doing is not getting noticed or simply doesn’t get the credit it deserves. In order to prevent this problem, you should really try to help them realize how their work fits in the big picture.

It might be a good idea to provide such motivation in writing as often as possible, since it could also be used as a reminder every time an employee is feeling a bit down. So, keep them in the loop, encourage, motivate and provide clear instructions regarding your expectations if you want to bring out the best in your colleagues.

Set clear and attainable objectives

This might be of utmost importance, since remote work is not as structured as on-site work. A less structured work requires much more structured expectations and guidelines. At no point should any remote employee have doubts and concerns regarding their short-term goals, projects they are involved in, the amount of work to be invested or any other aspect of work that is required.

In order to tackle this issue, many companies have regular discussions, say once a month, with all remote employees, just to make sure there are no information gaps or misunderstanding. It is vital that both the employer and the employee have a clear and precise picture of expectations and duties, if a business is to thrive.

As you can see, running a company with remote employees does involve some serious problems, but the advantages can easily outweigh them if a right approach is taken. By recognizing the needs and circumstances in which remote employees operate, you will not only make sure the best possible conditions for work, which will be reflected in your work.

About the Author: Emma Miller is a Sydney based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends.