3 Lessons For Working With Remote Employees

Are you considering making remote work a permanent part of your business? Then make sure you benefit from my experience in optimizing my remote management practices. 

I’ve Become A Big Believer In Remote Work

Are you considering making remote work a permanent part of your business? Then make sure you benefit from my experience in optimizing my remote management practices.

I probably would have laughed at the prospect if you had asked me about hiring remote workers three years ago. For most of my time as a business owner, I’ve assumed that the only way to manage a successful staff is to have them all under the same roof.

Then, as you know, the pandemic hit and changed the business world forever. I was forced to consider the remote work model's potential benefits and many capabilities firsthand.

At this point, I’m a true believer. I’ve reduced my office space (and the associated expenses), hired more skilled and experienced team members from more distant markets, and even get to work from home on occasion myself.

That said, managing a remote team didn’t come naturally. There was a lot of trial and error on my part….

3 Lessons For Working With Remote Employees

3 Best Practices For Managing Remote Workers

Many managers and business owners (myself included) have made big mistakes with remote workers. Giving up in-person managerial control of the workplace can be daunting if you’re used to it being that way.

This often leads to remote team leaders micromanaging their staff members, scheduling too many check-in meetings, and tracking time down to the minute. Let me tell you: there’s no faster way to disengage a remote employee than by wasting their time with your managerial insecurities.

Benefit from my experience and consider these four key lessons I’ve learned over the past three years:

Over Support & Under-Manage

The core issue with remote workers is obvious: they are not in your office, so how can you effectively manage them? The key is to make no assumptions about what they have and make every assumption about what they will produce (until proven otherwise, of course).

In other words, you should equate your remote workers with every resource they need to succeed and trust them to deliver the services or goods they have agreed to. You should only micromanage the quality of their work experience, not their performance on the job.

For example, look into their home “workplace”. The space one works in is an integral part of productivity. Ensure your remote worker is in a comfortable, distraction-free space as similar as possible to your typical workplace.

This may require investing in an office chair or a second monitor. Not everyone will have the necessary tools at home, so it’s recommended that you have many remote work bundles ready to go to maintain continuity and security:

  • Laptop
  • Monitor(s)
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Phone system and headset
  • Business-class firewall
  • AV Software

Promote Balance

Encouraging a balanced workday is vital for the productivity and morale of your staff. Make sure they take breaks to stay hydrated, relax, and stretch.

This will help them be more focused and productive when working. Additionally, it is essential to set a good example for your staff by maintaining a balanced workday yourself.

Remember that this does not have to be part of a staff-wide social initiative. You do not need to schedule a group “desk yoga” break after lunch every day, as these activities will more often than not wear down the goodwill among remote staff.

Instead, provide space for your remote team members to decompress. This may be encouraging them to take a walk after lunch or providing an employee-only social slack channel (no management allowed!)

Make Sure Everyone Knows The Plan

You must ensure everyone is on the same page concerning communication. Some staff members may update you multiple times daily, while others may not communicate unless there is an emergency.

Establish a policy for when and how communication should occur and ensure everyone follows it. This will help to ensure that everyone is kept up to date with what is happening.

My advice? Develop a culture of communication that is both ubiquitous and brief. This ensures regular communication is encouraged without wasting anyone’s time drafting long emails or sitting through long meetings.

Consider the following benchmarks:

  • Direct messages should be as short as possible (one-word responses aren’t rude—they’re efficient).
  • Emails should be 2-3 sentences.
  • Phone calls should be <5 minutes.
  • Meetings should be <30 minutes.

Essentially, whatever you or an employee needs to communicate should fit into this hierarchy. If you can’t address the topic in a DM, then fit it into an email. If it doesn’t fit into an email, then have a quick phone call. All of this should funnel up to your weekly or monthly staff meeting, which is likely the longest staff-wide event on the regular calendar.

Harness The Full Extent Of The Remote Work Model

The bottom line is that managing a remote staff is essentially a matter of surrendering the control you got used to in the conventional, in-person workplace. You cannot micromanage your remote staff, and so, it’s up to you to build an environment of trust, support, and productivity.

Doing so may take time, trial and error, and more careful hiring and training, but it will reward you (and your bottom line) in the long run—trust me.

Technology is a big challenge for business owners in remote work environments. What tech does your remote staff member need? How do you ensure they have secure access to company files? Is their home network secure enough to trust?

If you need expert assistance, allow my team and me to help. Book a meeting with us to talk further.

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