How to manage remote employees
Best practices for managing remote employees
As the HR tech industry continues to boom, so does the opportunity for employees to telecommute. In fact, 4.3 million employees (3.2% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time.
This trend adds new complexities to management—how are you supposed to manage employees who aren't physically in the office?
Remote worker policies
How can you expect anyone to know what your standards are if you don’t fully communicate them? This concept applies to all employee-manager relationships, not just remote ones. However, because remote workers do not have the same physical proximity as office workers, explicit expectations are especially important. Be sure to establish predefined expectations for procedures, goals, communication and performance with your remote employees. These expectations should be delivered verbally and documented in writing for future reference.
Tools to manage remote employees
Employees will perform best within their given roles when they have the proper tools. First you should invest in an HRIS system that will streamline your administrative needs for each hire. This platform will allow you to establish a clear workflow for all HR-oriented tasks. Introducing an employee to your company and engaging them with an HRIS platform will also help that employee feel more connected to their new organization. Because of this connectedness and engagement early on, the employee will be more likely to stay with the company longer.
Second, when planning to create a remote position, anticipate all instances in which an employee may need extra resources to make up for physical distance from the office. Again this rule of thumb centers on the necessity for engaging your remote employee from the get-go. By providing all necessary resources to telecommuters, you can successfully accommodate the uniqueness of each position and keep employees engaged in the company.
Example: Sam is a contractor who works remotely and is paid hourly. Because Sam is often on the go, he is not required to come into work. However, he still needs a way to clock in and out. His manager anticipated this need and provided him a mobile time and attendance solution. Now Sam's engagement with the company is not impaired by his physical distance.
Coaching remote employees
The key to good management is proper communication. Make a point to consistently communicate with your employees so that they know that you plan to be “present” regardless of physical location. Schedule a weekly conversation with each of your employees to go over questions, ideas and concerns. By having this consistent communication, the employee will feel less alienated from the company and more committed to the success of the organization as a whole. In these conversations you should make a point to provide positive and constructive feedback to each employee.
Also encourage your remote employees to communicate their questions according to priority. First communicate the difference between high and low priority levels. Once you’ve established that foundation, articulate how and when employees should contact you according to priority. If something is low priority, ask your employees to wait for your weekly meeting. If something is high priority, encourage employees to contact you following a specific procedure.
How to engage remote employees
Ironically, collaboration in the workplace has increased even with the growing acceptance of remote employment. Much of this collaboration can be attributed to the exponential growth of the HR tech industry. This means that you also need to consider which tools will help your team maximize collaborative and engagement efforts. Look for technology that enhances communication and facilitates brainstorming and teamwork.
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