Remote workforces are increasingly common for employers within a variety of industries. Cost benefits from reduced office space to lower turnover rates are reasons to follow this trend. Yet, the growth of remote employees presents challenges for traditional management styles.
The barrier between the office and remote location is difficult for several reasons. It is not easy to know whether employees stay on track with daily tasks. Managers cannot have face-to-face conversations. Neither can they know how much time an employee spends at his or her desk.
While this presents challenges, it is not impossible to follow daily activities of employees who are not physically in the office. The answer is to move away from old management practices and adopt advanced technology.
Many software programs offer insight into employee activities. These employee tracking systems helps managers know employees are working. Many systems also come with features that closes the distance between the office and the employee.
Here are five things for manager who want to keep their remote workers engaged to consider.
1. Make employee time tracking for remote employees automatic.
Self-reported data is not the best way to measure effectiveness. It is an outdated system that is prone to misinterpretations, errors and plenty of inaccuracies. The alternative approach is implementing an automatic time tracking system to keep up with schedules and workloads.
Employees clock in the system each day and the program automatically track their time. Not only can managers view a snapshot of completed tasks, but timesheets are also automatically filled. This reduces mix ups with payroll because the system is fully automated.
2. Focus on what, not when, remote employees produce work.
Many remote employees prefer tailored work schedules based on their most productive time. Managers who focus too much on the standard 9-5 work schedule might have a tendency to micromanage.
This could be a mistake for several reasons. First, some employees may rise early and begin their workday; others may display higher productivity late in the day. Unless it is an industry that requires employees on the job during specific hours, managers should not become distracted by the time of day work is completed.
Instead, the real metrics are in whether employees complete tasks on time or ahead of schedule. The benchmark for success is based on results, not activity levels. Employees who consistently hit the mark are doing what they were hired to do.
Happier employees are more engaged and willing to produce for employers who trust them to get the work done.
3. Treat remote and in-house employees the same.
For some managers, this is a no-brainer. Others may need a daily reminder since remote employees are not physically in front of them. Standards slip and how to treat employees who work remotely becomes unclear.
The baseline is whatever is done for in-house staff should be the same for remote employees. For instance, video conferencing works when training on a new software application. Another example is to schedule weekly meetings with remote employees, especially when managers meet weekly with in-house employees.
4. Remote employees need engagement, too.
Employees who spend some or all of their time away from the office need to know they are still part of the office. While weekly meetings keep employees engaged with work activities, they also need to connect with the cultural aspects of the company.
Culture plays a significant part in why some people accept a job offer. This matters even for employees who accept a position to work offsite. Remote employees can plan the next company outing or volunteer opportunity, for example.
5. Make time for one-on-one sessions.
One mistake for managers is approaching this work structure as a segment of the workforce. Actually, individual employees are employed by the company, whether they work remotely or not. Simply focusing on the metrics of employee time tracking for remote employees causes managers to lose sight of the advantages to this unique work relationship.
One-on-one sessions provides a chance for managers to talk with employees. They can find out what support employees need to deliver optimal performance. A flexible schedule is a benefit and a tradeoff for not being physically connected to their employer every day. Ongoing conversations keep both sides connected.
Regardless of location, remote employees are often more focused on being the best members of a team. Managers can track success and productivity based on deliverables. This creates a productive and engaging environment where trust acknowledges these employees are equal components of the company’s workforce.