As more and more employees turn to remote work, it’s clear that some employers struggle to manage them effectively. The problems stem almost exclusively from the fact that the worker is not sitting in an office space together with their colleagues and managers. Here are seven things you can do which will make all the difference.
1. Have a messaging space
The first thing you need to do is to set up a remote messaging space. Emails can be used, but in this day and age, they feel a little old-fashioned. Not only that, but they take more time to read and it’s harder to keep track of group conversations. An online messaging space like Slack will give you the chance to communicate in real-time, as well as keeping a record that others can read to stay up-to-date.
2. Protect your workspace
Before we even go any further, we have to make sure that your remote workers are not jeopardising your data. Your company workspace can be hacked through the internet connection, and since your employees may be moving around or using public Wi-Fi, it’s important to secure their access. Encourage them to use a VPN – you can put this in your employment policies and contracts – which will stop hackers from getting their hands on your data.
3. Create a task board
Alongside your messaging space, you will want a task board. This tells everyone what they need to do, and when. It should allow you to add deadlines, send alerts about late projects, and give your employees access to submit files and cross off tasks which have been completed.
4. Have weekly meetings
You should meet with your team at least once a week – if not more. Meeting one-on-one through a service like Skype will take your whole day, so try a service where you can all video chat or call at the same time. This way, you can have a meeting just like if you were in an office together, and keep everyone on track.
5. Be verbose
The important thing you have to boost when working remotely is communication. This is key for getting projects completed in a timely and accurate fashion. Since you can’t communicate in person, you’ll need to spend a lot of time chatting online and sending emails. Explain things as thoroughly as possible and keep everything written down.
6. Log time
If you aren’t sure that your employees are using their time well, you can ask them to log their time. This will mean that they record their hours working for you, or are required to sign in at a certain time each day. When you see their logged hours versus the work they have produced, you will know whether they are working hard or slacking off.
7. Maintain discipline
With a remote workforce, it can be tempting to think that things are not as formal or important as they would be in a “real” office. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You should maintain workplace policies and enforce them. If an employee acts against their contract or is not working hard enough, you can still instigate a disciplinary procedure over the internet. Make sure you follow through so that everyone takes their job seriously.
Remote working still feels new and strange to many of us, but it looks set to be the new norm as the years go on. Millennials feel very comfortable working this way, and so the percentage in the workplace is likely to increase – making it very important that you master this new management style.
Sarah Kearns is a hard working mother of three daughters. She is a Senior Communications Manager for BizDb, an online resource with information about businesses in the UK. She loves cooking, reading history books and writing about green living.