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Managing remote workers: How can we maximise productivity?

Wilhelm Crous - Tuesday, May 26, 2020

As workers and managers navigate the new world of remote work, various benefits and challenges have emerged. One of the biggest challenges has proven to be how to manage these remote workers.

Managing remote employees can feel like a completely different challenge than managing those you work with in close physical proximity. Often times things that work in an office don’t fully translate for remote employees. Luckily, this is not a dead end and there are different steps you can take to improve the management of remote employees so they’re productive and more importantly so that they feel engaged with the rest of the team. 

Becka Singler, part of the Management 3.0 team in the Netherlands offers these six tips to help you effectively manage the productivity of your remote employees:

Managing Remote Employees Tip #1: Set clear expectations

Establish expectations and open up constant dialogue around goals and deadlines to stay on the same page. Try to standardize deadlines for both remote workers and team members in the office. Just because remote workers don’t have commute time every day doesn’t mean they need to dedicate that extra hour or so to completing work tasks. Encourage remote workers to set ‘working hours’ including a hard start and stop time. This way boundaries will exist between when they are working or unavailable.

Managing Remote Employees Tip #2: Provide reliable tech

If your remote employees are unable to download files, have one broken speaker on their headphones, or regularly receive meeting invitations for a different time zone, you have failed to address the basics. Initially invest in reliable technology and tools to make collaboration possible and simple, and then develop uniform processes to use said tools. 

Managing Remote Employees Tip #3: Encourage relationship building

Empathise with and show appreciation for your employees’ lives by asking about their families, hobbies and beliefs. If you’re a part of management, check in frequently with your remote employees using unified communication collaboration tools and practices such as shared docs and spreadsheets, phone calls, instant messaging, and video chat to create a personal feel. Visibly indicate that you are supportive of their success by offering your help or advice on reaching goals rather than checking on daily progress or numbers.

Managing Remote Employees Tip #4: Use video conferencing

Because half of human communication is nonverbal, not being able to see someone you are conversing with can be difficult and confusing. To avoid this confusion with remote employees, use video conferencing as much as possible. Being able to read the visual cues your counterpart gives off will give you a better understanding of what they are actually thinking or feeling. 

Managing Remote Employees Tip #5: Focus on goals rather than activity

It’s important to manage expectations and focus on goals when dealing with your remote workforce. Try not to worry as much about what is being done, rather concentrate on what is being accomplished. If your team is meeting its goals, great, but if it’s not, take a look into the situation further and assess what needs to change.

Managing Remote Employees Tip #6: Use animated GIFs and emojis

As mentioned before, a large percentage of communication is nonverbal, and therefore it’s often difficult for words alone to convey your full message. Especially in work situations, words can come across as more aggressive or not as impactful as you intended. To help convey meaning better, find a gif to send along with your message, or include emoticons throughout your message.

Follow these tips to help your remote employees feel included and confident in their goals and tasks at hand. When your managers know how to properly handle remote workers, your employees will feel better as well. This will result in your business working smoothly and striving for success.

We'll be hosting an online Management 3.0 Workshop, running from 8 to 16 July July 2020. This workshop will be especially useful for team leads, managers, leaders, agile coaches, scrum masters, project managers and those who are working in remote environments. In addition, we’ll be running a Remote Worker Management Online Course starting on 22 June 2020 and ending on 6 July 2020. This course will explain some of the problems you could experience with managing remote workers, and guide you through ways to effectively manage and engage your remote workers so that they remain motivated, committed and productive. You can learn more about this online course – here.

Don't forget! If you're a member of our L&D Community,  HR Directors Community (for senior leaders) or HR Community (for HR executives of all levels), you qualify for a 20% discount on all KR webinars, online workshops and virtual conferences!






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