If you’re like most companies, your team is either working remotely or on a hybrid setup right now. According to a 2021 Gallup report, 45% of full-time employees work partly or fully remotely and nine out of 10 remote workers want to continue working from home to some degree.
While there are many perks to having a flexible work environment for staff, there are certainly a number of challenges of managing remote employees and best practices you should follow.
For managers and team leaders, managing a remote team means adapting traditional working methods to the virtual environment.
There are three key areas that companies need to look at to make remote and/or hybrid teams work: communication, time management tools, and security.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by these changes and wondering what exactly goes into managing remote teams, here are some of the most common challenges and how to face them.
How to Manage Remote Employees With Effective Communication
Challenge #1: Employee Engagement
Having an engaged and committed team means happy, creative employees looking for innovative solutions and working alongside you to reach the company’s goal.
One way to create a team building environment is to collaborate between different departments as a way to get to know everybody. As one of the most significant remote teams challenges, the best way to resolve this issue is with ongoing communication, whether that’s virtual meetings, video calls, or instant messages through a messaging system.
The bottom line is this: in order to ensure employee engagement, businesses need to understand what motivates each individual and what they need to feel supported. Make sure your team has all the necessary tools to succeed including ownership of tasks and projects.
Challenge #2: Miscommunication
With remote employees, there’s a lot that can be lost in translation if video conferencing isn’t handled correctly, especially when you don’t have regular face to face interactions.
When working with virtual teams, be sure that everyone is clear on exactly what tasks need to be accomplished and when they will be completed. Be sure to clearly communicate these action items, so that there are no surprises or misunderstandings later.
In addition, you should always reassure that the person or team you are speaking with understood the assignment correctly before moving forward.
These are some of the keys to cultivating an effective remote work environment. It is also imperative to assign clear channels of communication for each subject, including social interactions and “water cooler” talk.
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How to Improve Employee Productivity When Managing Remote Employees
Challenge #3: Time Management
If you want your remote employee team to be productive, set up a system for scheduling that works for both you and them.
When working from home, it can be easy for people to become distracted with non-relevant tasks, especially if you as a manager don’t set clear priorities. Tools such as Asana, Teamwork, or Trello can help you keep your team focused.
If you have a major project with multiple dependencies, break down the tasks to actionable points and assign tasks based on people’s talents and aspirations.
As a manager or team leader, it is your responsibility to communicate the project and company’s motivation and ensure that employees feel like they are making valuable contributions to a common goal.
Challenge #4: Employee Productivity
Studies show that employees who work remotely are generally more productive than their in-office counterparts. However, the key to productivity when working remotely is to establish clear expectations and deadlines so everyone on your team knows what they need to do and when.
It’s also important to note that remote workers need strong internal motivation. Therefore, your role as manager will change from providing structure and direction at the office, such as setting up meetings or creating project schedules, to being an external source of motivation.
This includes inspiring your team by showing interest in their progress without being overbearing about deadlines or quality control issues.
Managing Cybersecurity Threats When Working With Remote Employees
Challenge #5: Security Breaches
Cybersecurity is a critical topic, and it’s one that many companies struggle with when they have remote employees or when they’re considering hiring remote workers.
You need to ensure that your company has robust security protocols because many potential security risks are involved with employees outside your office. Some examples of these include:
- Fraudulent transactions made by strangers who use the same IP address as their victim (e.g., if someone has your home address but not your work email address or phone number)
- Fraudulent transactions made by hackers who use stolen data from previous victims (e.g., if someone steals your credit card information and then uses it to create a new account under another person’s name)
- Theft by employees at remote locations (e.g., if an employee at one place steals something from another site)
One effective way to protect your employee and company data is to utilize remote IT support services and solutions that offer complete protection.
With regular stress tests of your IT systems, you can discover and eliminate any weaknesses to ensure you’re protected against a real data breach or cyber attack. Not only that, you can also train your staff to spot threats.
Manage Remote Employees More Efficiently With a Trusted Partner
Develop strategies for a better remote work environment with Power Consulting.
Effectively Manage Remote Employees With Power Consulting
The transition to a more flexible working schedule hasn’t been easy but the benefits outweigh the challenges of working remotely. However, it’s important as leaders who manage remote employees to be transparent, clear, and willing to adapt to new ways of working.
For managers, it means learning how to communicate effectively and successfully managing expectations so that everyone is on the same page about what they expect in their role.
The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Power Consulting helps companies in New York City and beyond resolve remote teams challenges with tools and strategies that enable you to manage remote employees more effectively and efficiently.
With a trusted technology partner and the right set of tools at your fingertips, you’ll be able to run an efficient business while mitigating common challenges that could slow your business down.
Improve the way you work remotely with expert advice and support from Power Consulting. Contact us today for more information.