How to effectively manage a remote workforce
Technology has enabled a world in which we don’t need to physically come to work in order to get work done. Managing remote teams is a new reality for most leaders. Not only is this a significant shift in the way businesses operate, but making this shift allows companies to increase their profitability by cutting office costs.
Remote workforce is fast becoming the new normal and for good reason. Firstly, employees and freelancers love the freedom of working from anywhere, and secondly, when not constrained by city limits, the employer can hire workers from a dramatically wider talent pool.
The ability to work remotely is a huge incentive to many employees, and promotes loyalty, productivity and satisfaction. But, it’s important that remote workforce, whether comprised of employees or outsourced workers, be managed effectively to ensure consistency & productivity, to help the business succeed.
Here are the basics for effective remote workforce management:
1. Communication is key: Managers of remote workers must be proactive communicators and ensure that the workers have great communication skills too. This includes investing in technology that allows your team to remain connected to their work and teammates. These employees must have access to files, information, tasks, deadlines, updates, news and more. Everyone must be on board with the right tools.
2. Always be goals-focused: In order to be successful, remote workers must operate as self-starters and will thrive with goals-focused directions. Providing metrics around the stated goals and projects gives clarity about their performance in relation to each goal. If your team is collectively working towards a shared goal, provide an online portal or hub where they can view the team’s overall progress against the goal and encourage one another.
3. Create accountability structures: Ensure that your remote workers know your expectations. It is important to develop a communication check-in protocol and regularly reach out to them to sync up on issues or priorities for their work that align with business objectives. Be clear and consistently revisit those expectations. Have goals, timelines, and hold people accountable for their deliverables.
4. Get together face to face periodically: Nothing beats getting everyone together face to face. You’ll build more rapport in a few days of team work in person than months of remote efforts. These meet ups may be expensive, but the ROI is very high and so is the energy. This also provides a unique opportunity to have big discussions around culture, vision, and the company or team’s future that would be difficult to do with people spread around the world.
5. Treat remote workers with respect: This goes without saying, but there is a tendency, especially when dealing with outsourced help, to take it for granted. If you are fortunate enough to find remote workers who do their job consistently well, you should pay them fairly and treat them with respect.
6. Promote a company culture: It is possible to promote a culture even if the team is scattered across the world. Your culture includes your values, way of doing business, communication style etc. Understanding and being aligned with these values creates a sense of loyalty and community even among team members you never meet in person.
While most people who work remotely enjoy solitude as a perk, loneliness, apprehension and various uncertainties may set in sometimes. It is important to take steps to keep your remote workforce upbeat and motivated at all times.