Remote employees

In light of the ongoing pandemic, many companies have been forced to adopt remote working. The question then arises; how can you manage remote employees effectively? As a manager, what steps can you take to build productivity, motivation and trust and open lines of communication when not everyone is on site or at the office. And how can you help these remote workers feel like they are part of the team? Here’s a few tips to ensure great engagement and productivity from remote employees.

  1. KEEP IT PERSONAL

Relationships at work are critical to a high performing team. When team members are comfortable with each other, conversations are automatically easier, direct and more productive. Personal relationships are integral to building trust and reducing unproductive conflict.

To keep remote teams personal and fun begin by taking a few minutes off your meetings to chat about personal interests. The truth is that you would do this in person so why not virtually. Take it a step further by creating dedicated channels to discuss things like sports, movies and activities. This is important because sharing personal stories helps to build empathy which then paves way for trust.

Ensure that you designate specific, appropriate ‘casual’ time in your meetings and have an agenda to stay on track each meeting.[1] Remember to also embrace spontaneous communication. Not only does it foster camaraderie and beat the blues, it’s great for idea generation.

  1. SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS

During the hiring process or the transition to working remotely, it is important to discuss exactly what you expect from your employees. Create reasonable and realistic expectations for them. Be sure to cover topics such as hours of availability, communication expectations including responsiveness to emails and phone calls. Your employees must understand the importance of work productivity and how this will be measured.[2]  

Ways of communicating are just as important in streamlining remote working. Video conferencing is a popular and convenient choice.

Consider creating accessible documents outlining all the guidelines and sending links to your employees.

  1. BE FLEXIBLE

A flexible schedule is one of the best things about working remotely. People working from home will want some flexibility with their work hours, and it is important to allow that. It allows employees to work at their own pace without the rigidity of office requirements. Trying to micromanage them will be a nightmare for everyone involved. Instead keep a record of their work and see what their output is. Are they delivering on time and as expected? Is the quality of their work sufficient and satisfactory? Be forgiving if someone can’t check their email immediately. There’s a good chance they’ll be back at it again later at night when the kids are tucked into bed. Remote working is not always 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.[3]

  1. SHOW APPRECIATION

Working remotely can sometimes make employees feel invisible and like their actions and efforts are going unnoticed. Ensure that you are generous with public praise and acknowledgement of your employees. This will show them that even with the distance, you appreciate the work that they do. Doing this will motivate them to work even harder and produce better results. It will also build a better relationship between you and your employees because your recognition of them will show them that you care about them as well.[4]

  1. PROMOTE TRANSPARENCY

Being transparent means informing workers about not only the company’s goals, but also the progress the company is making to achieve them and what it means to the company and its employees to achieve these goals. The best managers use transparency to foster a sense of stability and security among their employees. Ensure that there is an open line of communication between both the employer and employees. This will enable employees to be more comfortable with seeking help, asking for clarifications and even putting forward new ideas.[5]

  1. INVEST IN YOUR REMOTE OFFICES

While you may have been thrown into remote working during this pandemic, there’s no telling how long you’ll be expected to operate remotely. If you expect your team to work for several months and maintain their normal productivity, then be prepared to make an investment in hardware and software.

  • Start with basic necessities – reliable Wi-Fi, desktop monitors & keyboards and, good orthopaedic chairs.
  • Team and project management software like Google Drive or Basecamp.
  • Video-conferencing software like Skype, Microsoft teams and Zoom.

In times of uncertainty, we must all find ways to adapt and make the best out of things. Having remote workers is an innovative way to ensure the smooth running of a company without necessarily having to come into the office. According to business experts it is the future of work. Apply these simple tips to increase productivity and efficiency with your remote employees.

Mshimba Michelle


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/05/30/top-15-tips-to-effectively-manage-remote-employees/#3db5df67503c

[2] https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/7-tips-for-working-fsuccessfully-managing-remote-teams.html

[3] https://cultureiq.com/blog/types-work-flexibility-employees/

[4] https://www.appreciationatwork.com/blog/show-appreciation-managing-remote-workers/

[5] https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/11-tips-to-effectively-manage-remote-employees

  1. Avatar

    Thanks Michelle,

    Great and important insights for such a period.

  2. Avatar

    Great tips to have productive and, engaged employees, in these difficult times.

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