Sourcing work remotely is a quick way for both managers and their employees to gain a huge variety of benefits.
Managers benefit because remote workers with flexible work hours and environments are statistically shown to be more satisfied with their jobs. Happier employees perform better, completing projects faster and with more enthusiasm, so it’s a win for everyone.
The Remote Collaborative Worker Survey released on February 8 revealed that 77 percent of remote workers proved to be more productive when remote. Employees reported feeling more motivated, time efficient, and less stressed and, as a result, able to perform their jobs more easily.
Employees may decide to leave if they aren’t given what they need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. As times change, technology is allowing us to do more remotely. Most businesses can conduct most or all of their operations online. To stay current and avoid losing their best team members to competing employers who offer these benefits, employers have become increasingly open-minded about sourcing work remotely.
So how can leaders manage a remote workforce and keep employee engagement high?
When your remote team is spread across different locations, time zones and work schedules, don’t worry about over-communicating. Communication is your best tool when your employees are in another location.
Don’t be afraid to set up weekly one-on-one and team meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are clear. Hopping on a video call is also a great way to feel even more connected, since you can see the other person’s facial expressions.
Be sure to never exclude remote employees during the creative process. If you are having a meeting to launch a project, brainstorm ideas and strategize, or schedule a working session, always invite your remote employees to dial in via audio or video chat.
In a positive mentor relationship, the best teachers and leaders are actually those who can clearly communicate. No one wants to feel ignored by their boss, or to be lacking direction and wondering what to do next.
Using project management portals and HR management tools can be a huge help, too. With tools like Monday.com, project sheets can be built and shared in real time, to keep everyone on the same page and on target with deadlines. HR software might even offer cloud-based training tools so that employees can continue developing and growing while off site.
Practice social awareness
The biggest corporate trend in 2020 has been connecting virtually. Hosting conferences and video meetups online has been a game changer within the business world, because it’s so easy to use and allows users to sign on from their preferred location, wherever in the world that may be.
Using these video conferences has allowed us as a society to lower our carbon footprint and stay connected despite location preference or challenges brought on by weather disasters, terrorism, and pandemics such as COVID-19.
However, hosting a virtual Zoom conference, for example, is quite different than meeting face to face. Leading these meetings and having discussions with your remote team will require a bit of extra effort and social awareness.
When connecting through video conferencing, it can be a challenge to feel the same connection you feel face to face. Be mindful and aware of your social intuition. Being accepting of other personalities and styles of expression, as well as communicating respectfully, are of the utmost importance.
Here are some tips to use in your next virtual meeting:
- Don’t be afraid to go on video. Shy employees may be too nervous to go on video first. As a leader you can set a good example. Being on video conveys more of a personal connection and you can see the other person’s facial expressions, which helps avoid misunderstandings.
- Pay attention to facial expressions. Watch for signs someone wants to chime in with an idea. Don’t let your more introverted employees feel unheard because they couldn’t get a word in.
- Round Robin. Another way to make sure everyone has had a chance to speak is to directly ask for feedback and give them the opportunity to speak.
- Save the chit chat for later. Hold off on those side conversations while others are speaking and reserve some time towards the end of the meeting if you want to have free time to chat. You can still have that water cooler time to talk with your employees virtually, but make it known that the first portion of the meeting is dedicated for work and discussion will come later.
Trust your team
As you navigate the cloud and get a feel for virtual communication, be mindful of boundaries and don’t check in with your team every five minutes. It is wise to consider others’ work hours and time zone when they are remote, the same way one would if they were in office. As you manage your remote team, give people time to respond and be courteous.
No one likes being micromanaged; putting too much pressure on your team members is going to push them away and cause frustration.
Showing respect for everyone’s time and schedule earns trust and builds camaraderie.
Managers who consider themselves more old-school and are not used to working in a home office may have a hard time adjusting. But giving employees the freedom of a longer leash guarantees they will bounce back, rejuvenated.
Rather than merely check in on tasks and reminding your employees of deadlines, be sure to show some praise and reward for what they are accomplishing, also. Focus on where you are going, without getting hung up on every step of the process.
Don’t forget to have a little fun
Not being together in the office doesn’t mean forgetting your company has a culture. Promoting the company culture is also a subtle way to continue to instill passion and realign each individual with the company’s goals, mission and philosophy.
One downside to working from home is feeling a lack of connection and involvement with the rest of the company. Some may genuinely miss being able to walk to the water cooler to chat with their colleagues.
With technology, teams have the freedom to check in anytime, from anywhere in the world. These check ins don’t have to be limited to team meetings, one on ones or performance reviews. Nowadays it’s become common for many businesses to have many different types of virtual social events and mixers. Have fun with it! Schedule a Friday meetup or do a virtual happy hour with your team just to relax and bond.