Managing employees by itself is already challenging, what more if they are working remotely across various locations?
According to recent reports, in the U.S. alone, 4.7 million people work remotely at least half the time. Globally, 16% of companies have fully adopted the remote work setup, with 62% of workers aged 25 to 65 claiming to work remotely at least occasionally, rates that are four to five times greater than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the increase in the number of employees who work remotely, not only due to the pandemic, but also because of technological advancements, managers face greater challenges now more than ever with regard to communication, tracking work and productivity, scheduling meetings, and building a positive company culture, tasks which were normally conducted with ease in traditional workplaces. With this, it becomes necessary for them to adopt new strategies that would help them in better managing remote workers:
- Understand common challenges
There are at least three challenges that both managers and employees encounter when working remotely.
First is the lack of face-to-face interaction. According to studies, humans are social creatures that are hard-wired to social relationships. When working remotely, both parties do not experience usual workplace encounters necessary to build stronger relationships that will allow them to resolve crises timely and efficiently. Second are communication breakdowns, which may happen when piles of urgent digital messages go unnoticed, slowing progress and frustrating the conduct of activities. Third is the presence of surrounding distractions, which are inevitable in places outside the traditional office.
Understanding these challenges and how they apply to every employee will allow managers to know where to start developing plans, rules, and solutions necessary in addressing them. Aside from that, this will raise awareness regarding the situation of every employee which will allow organizations to provide them with the assistance they need when working remotely.
- Regularly follow up with remote employees through reporting and video conferencing
Although there really is no standard method on how often a manager should reach out to remote workers, it is always ideal to regularly follow up with them about the status of their tasks, and how they are holding up given the limited resources they probably have. This may be conducted daily, weekly, or biweekly, depending on the level of difficulty and bulk of the tasks each employee handles. This will allow managers to determine how an employee is doing overall, which can serve as a standard guide in developing plans that would identify and eliminate bottlenecks.
This task is best conducted through video conferencing. According to the 7-38-55 rule, only 7% of all communication is done verbally, while 38% and 55% are defined by nonverbal components, such as the tone of voice and body language, respectively. This clearly shows that in order for all parties to understand one another better despite working remotely, it becomes necessary to see each other even just through video. This will allow managers to observe the conduct of employees and see how they are doing based not only on their verbal assertions, but also through their intonations and body language. In the same way, this will allow employees to fully understand the instructions given by managers. In the long run, this will provide a wider room for communication developments, avoiding misunderstandings and misinterpretations that could hinder all parties from working efficiently.
- Leverage the right technology
The strategies above and all others can only be effectively conducted when managers utilize the right technology and the best platforms.
Using only the best technology will allow them to perform their tasks and implement their plans with ease, leaving the typically difficult duties to the hands of reliable digital platforms that can assist them in managing their employees efficiently.
For example, managers facing challenges in consolidating the schedule of employees working remotely across different time zones may use time and attendance management systems that would automatically monitor and check employee attendance. On the other hand, those who usually encounter problems relating to payroll may use a payroll software that will allow them to securely, automatically, and timely release employee compensation across different currencies through a one-click payroll generation feature, like that of BSH Soft, a provider of cloud HR software in Dubai.
Technologies and softwares like these will allow managers to not only accurately monitor employees, but also ensure that all the latter’s needs are met and efficiently addressed.