5 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

April 29, 2024

Managing Remote Employees image

Employers are starting to see the benefits of allowing remote work , either part-time or full-time. Some employers were forced into remote work because of the pandemic, which means they may not have had the time or resources to adapt their management style to remote workers.

While the principles in managing remote employees are the same, the methods are different from in-office management. That’s why it’s important to understand how remote work affects management.

Read on to learn about how you can manage remote employees effectively.

5 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

Most of these tips may already be familiar to you as a manager and employer but need adapting for a remote workspace.

#1 Set clear rules of communication

Remote work usually means that work hours are somewhat flexible. Even if you technically set 9am to 5pm hours, your employees are likely answering a quick email after dinner or putting the final touches on something early in the morning. This can create unclear boundaries of communication. Does sending out emails consistently at 8pm signal to employees that they’re expected to respond outside of traditional working hours? Is that appropriate?

This may seem obvious to some, but employees will break the rules of what’s normally acceptable if these communication rules are not spelled out.

Set expectations of appropriate times to communicate, and how quickly you expect a response given the method of communication. Messages on chat platforms such as Slack come with the expectation of a speedy reply, whereas email implies a slower, more in-depth reply.

#2 Measure productivity to establish trust

Trust is a big issue when managing remote workers. After all, you can’t see your employees, so how do you know they’re getting the job done?

To address this, some managers turn to solutions such as tracking mouse movements or tracking time spent “active” on a software such as Teams to “see” digitally how hard your employees are working.

These methods aren’t usually successful because they can foster resentment in employees who feel they aren’t being trusted, and employees can easily “cheat” these systems. An employee can move their mouse every few minutes to give the illusion that they are working. And if that’s the only indicator you’re tracking, you’re not gaining any insight into the actual work your employee is doing.

Measuring success and productivity by milestones and tasks works best for remote work. For example, you can set a goal of “complete four reports with actionable insights by Tuesday.” Whether the employee writes one report per day or completes them all on Monday evening is less important than the reports getting done and done well.

And best of all, when you measure productivity by tasks, your employees can’t “cheat” the system. Either the work gets done, or it doesn’t.

#3 Check in early, and often

In the office, checking in happens all the time. You can quickly walk to an employee’s desk and ask them how a project is coming along, or quickly gather a few people for an impromptu meeting.

This is much harder when you’re working remotely. Check-ins need to be often, and intentionally scheduled.

A quick daily check-in at the beginning of the day is an effective way to get everyone on the same page about priorities and collaboration. The check-in doesn’t have to be a video meeting – you can set an asynchronous check-in on your Slack or Teams messaging platform. If you prefer to have a meeting for daily check-ins, it should be short and with a hard stop time so people can get to work.

It’s also a good idea to have a more in-depth weekly 60-90-minute check-in during which the team can get aligned on the progress of all projects and outstanding tasks. These weekly check-ins are great to do on Friday afternoon or Monday morning, allowing employees the ability to schedule their week accordingly.

#4 Schedule mentorship opportunities

Mentorship is critical to developing your employees’ skills and encouraging employee retention. The lack of mentorship opportunities is one of the main drawbacks of remote work that employees report. Mentorship is more difficult in remote work because supervisors and their employees are not physically in the same place.

Mentorship often happens on the fly – for example, a supervisor stops by an employee’s desk and shows them a few pointers on how to improve their reports. These kinds of spontaneous learning moments are more difficult with remote work since you’re not in the same space.

This means that mentorship opportunities need to be intentionally scheduled, and often. Have all supervisors check in with their teams periodically for the purpose of mentorship. Set regular meetings to discuss employee goals and learning opportunities. If you don’t schedule time for mentorship, it’s unlikely to happen.

#5 Train your team on your technology suite

Technology is the lifeblood of remote work. Without video calls, messaging platforms, and more, remote work wouldn’t be possible.

Remote work requires proficiency in many different technology platforms that employees will use daily. Never assume proficiency in technology, or that a piece of software is easy for an employee to learn on their own. If your employee struggles with any piece of technology that’s necessary for their work, they will be less productive.

Provide training on each piece of technology, no matter how simple it may seem. Require this training for any new employees and those who are new to remote work.

Managing a remote team can be difficult, especially if you’re expecting it to be the same as managing an in-office team. Adapting your management strategies to remote work will help create a smooth remote working environment.

Commonwealth Payroll & HR Can Help You Be The Best Remote Employer

At Commonwealth Payroll & HR, we pair our payroll and HR expertise with a powerful Human Capital Management technology platform. From payroll processing to employee time management and benefit administration, our solutions can help you be the best employer you can be. Contact us to get started.

Compare Plans View Demo Self Assessment Subscribe to Insights