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8 Tips for Managing a Remote Team [Experts Reveal]

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tips to manage a remote team number in the thousands. It would take a book-full to hand out to you all the best practices. However, we found a way to cut the clutter.

We have rounded up what the experts think on remote work in this blog post.

Before we reveal them to you, we should let you know that these quotes are collected from various blog posts and aren’t sourced directly from experts.

Disclaimers aside, here are some world-class tips to manage remote teams.

1. Setting up workspace & providing tools

“Allocate the remote employee the funds to get proper office supplies and equipment. Avoid thinking that running a home office is cheap. Instead, estimate and allocate funding for the remote employee’s electric, heat, space, furniture, Internet access, regular phone, fax capability, mobile phone, and office supplies. Remote employees enjoy the freedom to go use their allocated office budget to run their personal office. At all costs, avoid having the remote employee feel like they need to pay for their own pens and pencils, or even ask clients for them.”

-- Douglas K Williams, Capella University

One of the best practices to employ in managing remote employees is by identifying and providing the right tools to work. The pandemic pushed (if not witnessed) companies to rapidly shift their operations to accommodate remote work. 

In such tumultuous times, it is easy to become complacent in identifying the root tools for corresponding workers. These tools include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Furniture
  • Internet access
  • Intranet access
  • Policy and procedure manuals
  • Presentation templates and supplies
  • Mail supplies and stationery
  • Software programs
  • Corporate credit card

Here are a few tips to help remote workers create a productive workspace:

  1. Establish remote worker expectations and security standards
  2. Allocate funding for remote workers to buy furniture, laptops
  3. Task managers to explore the reliability of internet connections for all your employees

2. Create Job Expectations as Clear as The Lake Tahoe 

“I’ve managed remote employees for multiple companies, and the key is a clear job description and expectations.”

 —Rolf Gehrung, AccuZip

Planning and setting out job expectations may sound simple. However, it requires a lot of thought. 

Remote employees are more prone to suffer from social isolation than their office counterparts. Amid a pandemic and consequent triggering of lockdowns, social participation is at an all-time low. 

When working in a brick and mortar building, employees catch up over the coffee machine, or just stretch their heads out from the cabin to signal their peers for friendly banter. This camaraderie is difficult to emulate while working remotely. 

Such perturbed communication creates unclear expectations. Meaning, managers would be complacent on the deliverables while workers would create feelings of unrealistic expectations. 

To solve this here is our first tip for managing remote workers - set clear expectations. This not only leads to prompt delivery of deliverables but reduces anxiety and stress. 

When you set expectations, encompasses activities such as:

  1. Posting accurate job descriptions
  2. Creating a thorough onboarding process
  3. Storing org-wide policies, case studies, staffing changes, company successes in one portal
  4. Clearly explaining remote work policies
  5. Ensuring the remote employee is clear about communication channels

3. Creating and facilitating effective communication channels

“The most important thing for me in managing a remote team is having consistent, regularly scheduled communication and measurable expectations. We have a regularly scheduled weekly team check-in, and monthly individual check-ins. I also have a set of weekly and monthly KPIs that I can easily monitor through our CRM.”

—Kelsey Grabenstein, CipherHealth

Effective communication and creating proper channels to communicate are key while managing remote employees. See, it’s easy for managers to check what their employees are up to in a traditional setting. However, it is not all rosy while managing remote employees. 

Firstly, let’s face it. A remote manager or an in-house manager leading remote employees should be tech-savvy. There are a lot of digital touchpoints the employer has to engage with while handling remote employees. 

Managers have to find a communication channel - emails, texts, phone calls, recorded videos -  that fits with the organizations’ goals. You should also take into consideration the frequency of communication needed between employees. 

The best way is to ask employees their preferences. Then build the best practices for your remote employees after finding the delicate balance between constantly pinging employees with other asynchronous means of communication.

4. Be A Result-Oriented Remote Manager

“Forget about tracking time and focus on results. We tell our employees they can work whenever and wherever they’d like as long as their work gets done on time. We focus purely on results and our employees know how they are performing at all times.”

—Brandon Hall, Hall CPA PLLC

In a traditional setting, firstly, you would expect employees to clock in and out at appropriate timings. Secondly, employees would be expected to work during fixed hours. Hence, processes, results, breaks, getting stuck all happen within this 8 or 9 hour period. 

The remote working scene is way different. Remote workers can log in early. They can avoid bustling traffic, sweaty sub rides, noisy carpools, etc. They log in right at the start of their most productive hours and aren’t constrained by login times and curfews in the office.

With such flexibility, you really cannot restrict them. Confining them to your expectations would mean confining their creativity and productivity as well. It is best if you leave them to strive using their own best practices and processes.

So here is a tip for managing your remote workers. Instead of fixating on their processes and how they get the work done, focus on what they get done. 

5. Increase recognition

“Recognize and reward remote employees. This is an easy one to lose sight of when you have others remote or in other locations. Be sure to always recognize and reward the work your employees are doing. A simple message, gift card, or catered meal for the group.”

—Carissa Newton, BrickHouse Security

If Gallup, the US-based analytics firm’s research is anything to take after, the impact of remote work on an employee’s recognition should concern you. Gallup found that lack of appreciation is one of the main reasons employees leave the company. They add to this stat, a quip - “The more talented employee is, the faster they leave”. 

And it should be obvious to you, the cost of employee turnover. If it isn’t, then let this hit you - the Centre of American Progress would like you to think that the cost of replacing an employee can range between 5.8% to 213% of the employee’s salary.

Does this tip to manage remote workers seem credible now?

Simply put, a simple gift card for promptly committing to a schedule, or a birthday cake can save you tons of money and precious talent.

Here a few tips for engaging your remote employees with recognition:

  1. Pay attention and respect the cultures of remote employees
  2. Organize in-person meeting every month
  3. Provide employees with recognition tools - stickers, badges, design tools. When peers end with thank you notes and appreciation cards it amplifies recognition and makes it more frequent.  
  4. Gamification makes workplace tasks challenges gobsmacking to endure. Introduce leaderboards or point systems to gauge the performance of your employees.
  5. Be organic and consistent in recognition. Your employees need recognition but shouldn’t be made to feel desperate.

6. Touch base with employees twice a week 

“The easiest and most effective thing we’ve done is to avoid scheduled daily check-ins. Most companies subscribe to a daily scrum: updates in a general Slack channel, Skype, etc. We’ve found that daily check-ins hurt productivity and morale. We still communicate daily, but it’s organic. We touch base with our remote employees every day as we discuss the company, projects, and see how everyone is doing.”

—Brandon Pindulic, OpGen Media

Remote employees hate micromanagement. They want you to focus on the results and not micromanage the process that leads to culmination. 

They also prefer fewer meetings and video conferences. Studies show that employees feel it enough if managers can conduct weekly meetings to review their progress. 

Hence, it is completely alright if you learn about the activities of your employees twice a week.

7. Initiate surveys about the current remote working style 

“Use simple pulse surveys to ask specific questions or track output to collect data and find areas of recognition”

-- Mary Bakker, contributor at Gartner

Managers handling remote employees are required to validate their efforts and contributions through a veil called “distance”. 

Moreover, a manager cannot be right about the company’s pulse all the time - even while working in-office. With distance factoring in, understanding the emotions of the company becomes even challenging. 

A popular technique is direct reporting. This means you make use of simple pulse surveys to ask direct questions, collect data, analyze co-relations and find areas of improvement. 

You could also complement these surveys using interviews to garner more qualitative data. Interviews help you dive deep into the experiences of your remote employees. You can cross-refer these experiences with the data from your surveys.

8. Move towards global hiring

“ Do you want to access talent everywhere, or just in specific markets? If the answer is everywhere, you need to be at least open to the possibility of remote work. ” – Katie Burke

 All of the above tactics shall only work when you move towards a global hiring and remote-first work culture. 

Moving towards a global hiring position allows you to tap into global talent markets, establish international sales teams, enter newer markets, etc. 

Creating remote-first policies to establish a global work culture across your company, helps build teams that are in sync across the company. 

How does Multiplier help in Managing Remote Teams?

Multiplier’s unified SaaS-based EOR solution helps in hiring and managing teams from across the globe. The SaaS-powered solution allows you to hire and employ remote workers and saves you a lot of trouble.

See, to employ people from different parts of the world you have to create a local entity in the corresponding country. By choosing Multiplier, you do not have to worry about setting up local bases. Instead, you can employ people from other countries using our local entities. 

Paying a remote workforce requires you to pay employees in their respective currencies. This may lead to a loss of 100-1000 bucks due to conversion rates. Multiplier helps you pay employees in a single click irrespective of their presence, local currencies, etc.

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