How to manage your remote workers
– 5 step toolkit
This page will teach you about the difficulties and advantages of having remote employees. We will also educate you on how to overcome the challenges, to successfully manage your remote team.
We live in a time where it is more relevant than ever to hire remote workers. There can be many reasons behind hiring a remote workforce, whether it is because your need a specific skill set for a job and therefore use a freelancer, or if you are a startup that needs to reduce costs and stay flexible in the phase of scaling. You may even be forced into managing your team remotely, as we saw in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many companies had to send home their employees.
Some people love working from home because they find it easier to concentrate, can structure their day better, or simply because they enjoy the freedom of being location independent.
For other people who prefer a more structured day and enjoy social interactions, working from home can be challenging and demotivating. In this case, it is your job as an employer to eliminate those challenges and make sure your remote workers have the right toolkit and structure to thrive at their home office.
In this article, we cover the important steps of managing a team of remote workers, while keeping them engaged, productive, and motivated. To achieve this as a company, you need to acquire the right mindset to eliminate all the challenges of not working closely together in a team. You also need the right toolkit to keep all tasks in order, to make sure your remote workers stay productive, with all necessary support from you as an employer.
Let’s start by identifying some of the most common challenges related to managing a team of remote workers:
11 Common challenges for remote workers
1. Inefficient work environment
If you are not used to working at home, your work environment may be very inefficient. It can be because you don’t have the same good desk setup, same office supplies, or simply because it’s hard to distinguish between home- and work environment when everything is happening “under the same roof”.
2. Distractions at home
The challenge of distinguishing between home and work environment, often leads to more distractions at the home office(we have all been there, am I right?). Maybe you check your phone a bit more when your boss is not around. Maybe the half-hour lunch break turns into an hour. Maybe you sleep in a bit because you don’t have any commuting to work. Maybe you check the fridge a bit more regularly than you would at the office.
All these distractions seem inappropriate at first, but since these things are normal in your home environment, the distractions easily sneak up on you and lead to procrastination. It’s necessary to eliminate these types of distractions before they turn into habits.
3. Social isolation
If you have an extrovert personality or you work best in a team, it can be hard to stay isolated at home for longer periods. As an employer, it’s important to know the personality types and (DISC – profiles) of your team members, to know how to support them in the best way, and make sure they don’t get bored or demotivated by working from home.
4. Making everybody feel a part of the team
When you work from home, it’s easier to feel like a random piece of a puzzle, instead of feeling like part of a team where your contribution and your value are crucial to the success of a project.
5. Lack of face-to-face supervision
It becomes harder for a company and a boss to supervise their team members when everybody works remotely or at home. The traditional methods that work well in the office, will not have the same effect in a remote situation and you must adapt to the circumstances and rethink the way you supervise your team.
6. No easy access to information
Working at an office surrounded by coworkers makes it easy to reach out and get help if there is anything you don’t know. At the same time, you will know where to go to access any information needed for a given task or project. At the home office, this process often becomes less transparent.
7. Making sure knowledge gets shared
This relates to the topic above, when you’re sitting at the home office it’s easy to get caught up in work and forget to share new knowledge with your coworkers.
8. Working together as a team towards common goals
When you are working from home, it’s easy to focus too much on your own responsibilities and if everybody are working with this mindset, it becomes hard for a boss to make sure that everybody are working towards a common goal.
9. Keeping a good communication flow
Even though we live in the 21st century, where the internet has become the most powerful source of communication, having a good communication flow online is not a matter of course. If you don’t have the right toolkit in place, it can be hard to know when to use different types of communication tools and how to make your communication efficient and clear among team members.
10. Making sure everybody are up-to-date on projects
In a normal office workflow, you might just update your coworkers directly or have a simple to-do-list on a whiteboard, to make sure everybody is up-to-date on different tasks and deadlines. When your employees are working remotely, a simple thing like this can become a challenge if you don’t have the right systems in place.
11. Lack of motivation
It can be harder to create a good company spirit when all your employees are working remotely. Being at home, working alone all day, can for some people lead to lower engagement and a decreasing motivation.
These were some of the most common challenges you may face in the process of managing a remote team. However, there are ways you can tackle those challenges and actually turn them into a strength among your remote workers. Let’s walk through these steps.
How to eliminate those challenges in your remote team
1. Get the right setup in place
Make sure to educate your employees on how to setup a good work environment at home. And teach them how to create good habits, so they manage to get a healthy balance between home- and work-life. Last but not least, make sure to provide the necessary equipment for your employees to be productive at home. Some may need a height-adjustable desk, a specific chair, or something else. Some people tend to adopt a very comfy and non-ergonomic workspace at home, this easily leads to back pain and health problems in the long term.
2. Have scheduled check-in’s
While giving your employees more flexibility over their own time management, having a daily or weekly check-in will be beneficial to help them build strong routines, make sure all knowledge gets shared, and keeping everybody up-to-date on projects.
3. Communication is key
The scheduled check-in can be great to keep everybody on the same page and make sure all your employees are updated on projects. But when we look at how your employees thrive, the right communication channels, with an informal tone among colleagues, can be key to make sure everybody feels like a part of the team and retains their motivation.
4. Support your team
Some employees strive in their home environment, while others may need to adapt to working remotely. It’s important that you are very supportive as a leader and understand the different challenges your employers may face when working at home.
5. Embrace flexible
Every one of your employees will have a different home environment and each person have a different efficiency throughout the day. A big benefit of working from home is to be able to manage your own schedule and have more time flexibility. As an employer, you can embrace this, by focusing more on the outcome instead of the activity rate.
6. Find out what drives motivation and provide feedback
This is an important step whether you’re employees are working from the office or remotely at home. But the factors that drive their motivation can be different, whether they are at the office or home. So be sure to measure their satisfaction and general well-being and get regular feedback from your team, so you can support them in the right way.
7. Take advantage of technology and put the right tools in place
Last but not least, your success factor of eliminating these challenges, depends on your structure and setup around each topic. Therefore it is very important to have the right toolkit in place if you want to successfully manage a remote team.
While the steps above give you a great idea about what’s needed, to keep your remote workers motivated, engaged and productive, they might not give you a clear idea about how to implement those elements in your company workflow.
We have made it easy for you by making a toolkit list, that will allow you to manage your remote team with success.
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5 step toolkit to manage your remote team
It takes the right set of tools, to become successful with the steps abow. Here are our favorite tools.
Liquid Planner – Good time tracking and project management tool for agencies
Frequently Asked Questions
It is important to both have a plan for work-related communication as well as social communication between colleagues
Weekly check-in and online learning are important factors
Get comfortable with freedom with responsibility and use a time management/task tool.
Give them responsibility, creative control and a feeling of ownership on projects
Set goals. Measure and evaluate employee satisfaction. Reward good results.