Managing Remote Employees: Human Resource Tips
Benefits of Remote Work
- Wider pool of talent and opportunities. Human resource managers are able to broaden their talent searches to new geographic markets. Employees can consider positions in areas where they can’t afford to live.
- Lower overhead. Downsizing or eschewing offices altogether for remote workplaces saves companies money on expenses including rent, office furniture, and utilities.
- Lack of commute. Pre-pandemic, remote workers spent about 200 fewer hours commuting than their on-site counterparts, according to CNBC.
- Less expensive. The work-from-home savings for employees during the pandemic equates to nearly $6,000 per year on average vs. working in an office environment, according to Owl Labs.
- Flexible scheduling. Remote workers can pinpoint the perfect time for doctor’s appointments and other potential schedule-busters by managing their own workdays from home, according to Statista.
Strategic Management of Remote Employees
Tips for Managing Remote Employees
- Build camaraderie through virtual community. Remote team-building activities such as production-based contests or online trivia games can boost engagement among virtual teams, according to Owl Labs, particularly when prizes are awarded.
- Create goal-based performance tracking. Rather than focusing on the hours required to complete a project or task, concentrate on the results.
- Establish rules of engagement for communication. Teams should determine core workday hours when employees must be available to collaborate. Leaders can identify certain virtual communication tools as appropriate for quick questions and those to be used for more complex issues.
- Maintain a positive mindset. Others can quickly pick up on a negative tone, so keep communication and intent positive and constructive.
- Encourage one-on-one interaction. While many remote employees are in virtual meetings for a large portion of their workdays, setting aside time for a separate video call or phone call for important conversations is paramount. Inflection and tone can easily be misconstrued in text, chat, or direct message communications.
- Promote positive behaviors and coping skills. Enlisting the help of a professional speaker to discuss the importance of a healthy work-life balance, the benefits of regular exercise and meditation, ways to reduce stress, or coping skills to deal with loneliness can benefit employees who do not otherwise have these resources.
- Scheduled check-ins. Regular communication with each team member creates opportunities to maintain a strong connection and share feedback and accolades.
- Maintain training. Even during a pandemic, employees seek to develop their careers. Offering additional training on an existing system or new area encourages aspiring professionals and deepens their loyalty.
Overcoming Common Remote Work Challenges
Challenges of Remote Work
- Waning camaraderie. Remote workplaces provide no opportunities for impromptu post-meeting hallway conversations, team building events, happy hours, team lunches, or one-off huddle meetings for project prep. Because all interactions are virtual, bonding with co-workers is more difficult.
- According to Buffer, 20% of remote workers report that loneliness is their biggest struggle.
- Dissolving office culture. Remote work can dilute or even dismantle previously strong corporate cultures.
- With teams working around the clock and using multiple communication tools, communication issues can intensify.
- Unplugging after work. One in 5 people report that they are working more during COVID-19, according to Owl Labs.
- Lapses in trust. The relationship between employer and employee is a delicate one and can be tested, particularly during times of stress, by lack of trust on either side.
- Not all broadband access is the same across work groups. Lack of high-speed broadband internet access can conspire against productivity for even the most talented employees.
- Nagging distractions. Employees working remotely typically do not have library-like work environments. Families, pets, and live-in parents can undermine productivity and focus.