The virtual workspace has become a reality. Did you know that 43 percent Americans reported that they prefer taking up freelance or remote jobs rather than full-time shifts?
Remote teams are increasingly becoming popular because of their benefits to both employers and employees. For employees, remote working can save traveling time, improve work-life balance, reduce time in office conversations and increase flexibility. While for employers, it saves rent, electricity costs and other overheads, boosts employee morale and ensures work is done fast.
All in all, there is definitely a rage of working remotely that is bound to catch up in teams all across the world.
But here’s the question: how to successfully manage work with remote teams? Here’s the hacks:
Put out a weekly work plan indicating what is expected from employees. A work plan ensures accountability and helps them focus on their goals. Before your team starts off any task, ensure it is broken into sub-tasks that can be easily monitored.
You can use project management software to track employee’s progress. With the software, you can check where the project stands, how long will it take for an employee to meet the deadline, whether they will be able to meet the set deadline, and if they require any assistance if they are stuck midway.
Keep a track of the time spent by employees with time management software or an Excel timesheet. Employees will log in the amount of time they have worked and you can compare that with the actual work plan. This way, you don’t underpay or overpay your staff.
It is difficult for remote employees to separate their home and work time, so if an employee is recording more time, you can have a chat with him or her. Ask your remote workers to work on regular office timings as far as possible.
Since physical face-to-face communication to discuss project plans or other doubts could be difficult in remote working, it is essential to have a collaboration tool that helps employees work together easily. You should also conduct virtual team meetings so that everyone is in sync. Be transparent in your communication line and share your vision and mission with the team so they can align themselves with company objectives.
Though remote working communication focuses mainly on work-related matters, they shouldn’t feel ignored personally. Schedule an in-office meeting at least once a month where all employees have to compulsorily attend. This will help you review previous month’s performance and set goals for the coming month as well.
Even remote workers need a break. Organise team outings with their families. Invest in training workshops and online training courses such as Udemy, Coursera, and edX to improve their skills. You can combine training workshops with team outings too. Motivate high-performing employees with promotions, pay hikes or gifts.
Remote collaboration is used to eliminate the limitations of geographic location and developing team-spirit between members. Keep a track of what your employees are up to. Use a document management system to share files and documents. There are tools like Dropbox and Google Drive that can do this for you.
Relying on emails alone for document sharing doesn’t scale as the continuity is lost and the latest changes aren’t recorded. Use collaboration tools like ProProfs Project, Slack, Asana, Jira, Flock, Flowdock, Trello, and the likes.
Do not get restless because your employees aren’t within the eyesight. Give them autonomy and do not over-manage. Your employees should know that ‘Out of Sight’ is not ‘Out of Mind’. So just give them the guidance and support and let them do their work.
Hiring a remote employee is not the same as hiring regular staff. Build a team of enthusiastic doers as they will work with minimum supervision. Hire people you can trust and trust the people you hire! Look for candidates who will do well with self-direction and self-discipline.
If possible, you can hire candidates with prior experience in remote jobs. Empower employees to make decisions rather than getting back to you for everything. Also, ensure that they are paid on par or closer to what in-office employees get.
David is a technical writer whose works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in project management software helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in workflows across organizations. Connect to him on LinkedIn and Twitter.