Working outside of a traditional office environment is not suitable for everyone. However, for many reasons, it has become more and more prevalent in today’s business world. For those workers, there are specific things to keep in mind in order to ensure they are being managed effectively. How can you know if you are ready to allow your employees to work remotely and trust them to do what they are supposed to?
Remote workers go by many names, such as Digital Nomads, location-independent professionals, technomads, teleworkers, telecommuters, web workers, etc. Whatever you call them, they are are a growing number of the workforce that is able to do their jobs from anywhere.
According to People Alchemy, a remote team is comprised of a group of people with immense corresponding knowledge that are committed to complete specifically defined work to achieve their business goals by working from a mobile work environment. It seems easy enough…until you get to the “mobile work environment.”
If you have decided you are ready and willing to trust your staff to work remotely, here are some ways to be most effective at managing them:
- Organize a whole day
Planning each day in advance will give your remote workforce structure and boundaries. If you have everyone’s tasks assigned to them on a daily basis, you’ll know that they have a full eight hours of work to keep them busy. Sharing the completed task assignments back to you at the end of the day will tell you whether they were really working hard…or hardly working.
Make sure they have the tools necessary to finish these tasks and share them with you as well. An online project management tool used by all team members would help considerably with this management tactic.
- Reduce disturbances
Encourage your remote workers to minimize distractions to help them remain productive. Recommending a dedicated office space that is conducive to being able to concentrate on work is a good start. Being mindful of the intention to work productively and avoid disturbances may help. Avoiding social media altogether will help them avoid getting sucked into the social media black hole and distracted for long periods of time.
At the same time, it’s best just to encourage them to leave their phone upside down with all notifications off. Taking a brief break once an hour or so to check for missed calls and text messages will help them remain on track for longer stints. They could even set a timer until break time or the end of the day to help them stay more focused on the work.
- Use time wisely
For your technomads to use their time wisely, it’s important for them to define their working hours and getting their work done consistently during those hours. If there aren’t any strict office hours, this can be even more of a challenge, since being able to work whenever you want may make them procrastinate and not work at all!
Set realistic goals to accomplish tasks within these pre-defined working hours to avoid having to use valuable personal time to complete with them. Having them use daily activity planners will help them use their time wisely, prioritize accordingly and will allow you to be involved with their progress.
- Engage frequently
In order to help make your remote workers feel just as comfortable and part of the team as your on-site staff, create opportunities to stay connected with employees working remotely. Scheduling daily stand-up meetings is a great way for everyone to stay connected. In an Agile project team, a daily meeting is referred to as a Scrum meeting and tends to be very effective to keep everyone on the same page.
Conducting face-to-face video conference meetings on a regular basis or online training opportunities for your teleworkers is also a good idea.
Investing in affordable software to help you and your team stay connected by chatting and sharing files is ideal.
- Stop multitasking
Bustle suggests that multitasking is actually not a good thing. They propose instead that you attempt to focus on unitasking. By taking on one task at a time, you are more focused on the task at hand. Multitasking doesn’t actually exist, it’s more like shifting from one task to another often, which makes you lose productivity.
In order to unitask, encourage your remote staff to make lists of activities and prioritize tasks on their daily activity planners. Avoid anything going on that isn’t contributing to being totally focused on the task at hand.
Encourage them to take proper breaks for personal business and make sure they always check their availability before accepting new tasks to avoid last-minute forced multitasking.
- Develop rapport
As a manager of a remote workforce, it’ll be up to you to build a strong rapport between you and your remote employees and among the coworkers within the organization. Encourage them to interact regularly and help them work through issues and come to resolutions on their own.
Make some small talk now and then, instead of just talking shop all the time. Understand how they work and if there are any issues with dependencies on other remotely located coworkers.
Also ensure that you are in contact on a regular basis, even if there are significant time zone differences. You may need to work late in order to catch them early. It is of utmost importance that you make each one of your employees feel like part of the team.
- Set clear expectations
Set realistic and understandable expectations and know what is expected of you as well. Share company policies and position responsibilities with each of your telecommuters. Help them understand the company culture and brand and how they can be a part of it and an ambassador for it.
Make sure everyone understands the expectations, of them and you, and make sure they are documented and measured. Explain to them before any employment contracts are ever signed so everyone is on board. There’s nothing worse than to be felt like you are left on a deserted island and left to your own devices as a remote employee.
In order to successfully manage remote teams with these tips, it would be ideal to implement a project management software that could help you streamline processes and align teams. Projects.ly by 500apps is a powerful project management tool with features that include team collaboration, file sharing, task management and much more.
Remote teams are a reality in 2019 and may become a necessity as soon as 2020. If you keep these 7 most effective ways to manage your remote team in mind, you will be able to confidently keep everyone on the same page and continually deliver successful results as a team. Give Projects.ly a try free for 30 days to see if it is right for your team.