Team leaders need to constantly research how the way in which businesses and organizations approach work is changing. For instance, technology has of course made it easier than ever for employees to work from home, or any other location they choose. This has resulted in a dramatic rise in the popularity of remote work.
You need to keep this in mind if you lead a team. Although you may currently manage employees who share an office, there’s a good chance this won’t be the case forever.
Prepare by learning what you can do to effectively manage remote workers. The way in which you supervise employees who work remotely will naturally differ from your current strategies. You’re much more likely to be successful in the future if you keep the following tips in mind:
Schedule Regular Feedback Sessions
Providing employees with feedback (and giving them opportunities to share their own thoughts with you) is essential. Studies and surveys routinely indicate that employees are more engaged when they have regular chances to discuss their progress and goals with team leaders.
When you share an office, providing an employee with feedback is relatively easy. You can simply identify a time when neither of you are busy, stepping aside for a few minutes to talk about any relevant issues. That type of casual interaction can be accomplished via any number of chat programs that enable remote employees to contact you when they have a quick question.
However, you’ll also need to schedule regular formal feedback sessions. Ideally, you’ll conduct these sessions over video chat, allowing for a greater degree of natural discussion than you could achieve through a phone call alone. Make sure these sessions occur regularly. If you don’t adhere to a consistent schedule, there’s a good chance you won’t stay in contact as often as necessary.
Be Very Clear When Establishing Goals
It’s always smart to ensure your team members understand what’s expected of them. Research has also shown that employees become disengaged when they feel they don’t understand their goals.
However, this is even more crucial when managing a remote team. Employees who don’t work in the same office can’t knock on your door whenever they have a question. Although they can reach out via phone, chat, or email, these tools have limitations. In addition, if remote employees are not in the same time zone, it can be difficult to communicate in real time.
Remember this when assigning tasks to your remote employees. The clearer your instructions, the better the odds your employees will remain engaged and productive.
Make Smart Hiring Decisions
The qualities you must seek out when hiring employees who will work remotely are different than those you might look for when hiring employees who would work in the same office as you. For instance, when hiring a remote team, it’s particularly important to look for signs that candidates are motivated self-starters.
A motivated candidate may demonstrate a history of taking extra steps to make themselves more valuable to their employers. They might appear to have earned promotions relatively quickly in the past, indicating they work hard. If they’ve successfully worked in a remote capacity before, or if they’ve previously owned a business, that’s also a good sign you can trust them to remain committed to their work.
Some otherwise strong employees may not feel the urge to be productive when they don’t regularly interact with their manager. You can’t lead a successful remote team if these are the types of people you hire. Instead, take your time when reviewing candidates, ensuring you’ve identified those who will be able to motivate themselves.
Provide Remote Workers with the Right Tools
Employees need the right tools and resources to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. This is another factor that has a major impact on engagement. Surveys reveal that workers who don’t have the tools they need are far less likely to be engaged than those who do.
Remember this when preparing to hire remote employees. Again, if they aren’t sharing your office, they may not have immediate access to all the tools your office provides. It might thus be necessary to supply them yourself.
That said, don’t make the mistake of ignoring this issue after providing your employees with the initial tools and resources they’ll use when first starting their jobs. After they’ve been in their roles for several weeks or months, they may realize they would benefit from using tools you didn’t provide at the start. During your feedback sessions, ask them about this topic, confirming they have everything they need to remain productive.
The nature of work is always shifting. Remember, although your team may not be remote right now, that could change one day. Preparing accordingly will help you succeed when it does.