In this article, you’ll learn the expert tips about managing remote employees during this post-crisis period, but before we jump to that; let’s consider a Global Workplace Analytics survey which revealed that almost 50% of the worldwide workforce is engaged in different telecommuting roles. Further, 80-90% of the on-site workers desired to work remotely, at least for a few days in the week.

Pre-COVID-19, over 4.3 million employees (3.2% of the workforce) are already working from home at least half the time, according to Global Workplace Analytics, and that’s just the beginning as the world is adapting to work from home in this pandemic rich environment.

To meet the needs of finding the right human resource at an all-time high, more and more organizations are heading towards building remote work teams in different countries around the globe. Eliminating the traditional demographics barrier, companies can now hire foreign talent while notably reducing operational costs. However, there are still businesses in the West who hesitate in hiring remote employees for one main reason – They don’t know how to manage a remote team.

Will it improve or at least maintain productivity? What if the project crashes? Is it a smart decision to hire a remote team? These are some questions that every business attaches its concern with. This article will remove the curtain from the obscure reality of remote workstations and conclude how to ensure collaboration and productivity while working with the remote team.

Challenges in Remote Working

Remote work is different from the typical work layout in a few significant ways. And if there is a bright side of remote work, new and unique challenges are linked with hiring and managing remote employees that managers use to oversee. In addition, without prior experience working with remote teams, it can be difficult to understand and resolve remote employees’ issues.

It is necessary to understand and anticipate the plausible problems that your remote workers while managing remote employees:

Isolation

No doubt, this is one of the top three challenges your remote workers can experience.

Human interaction is crucial for normal growth concerning the perspective of both psychology and sociology. Socializing and interacting with other human beings is the core factor in human evolution and the main reason societies were formed and later categorized into communities or tribes.

It’s a huge mental health factor that casts shadows not only on our cognitive process but even on our physical health.

According to the 2018 Neuroscience report, when researchers isolated the mice from their normal social structure, their brain cells first started to respond abnormally and later started dying off.

Similarly, transition back from isolation to a highly social environment can also influence an individual’s decision-making due to the significant changes in the tolerance level and social factors made during the period of isolation. For instance, a study conducted in China showed an increase in the divorce rate during the COVID19 lockdown period.

Prolonged isolation can trigger and increase the depression or anxiety cycles and make permanent changes in an individual’s personality.

As a remote team manager, one should consider all these psychological and social factors. Then, find ways to connect them socially with the rest of the team whenever possible.

Also, please encourage them to break comfort zones, get out of the house, go to a cafeteria, hackerspaces, and libraries to work, spend time with family, exercise in a gym, or attend meetups.

Communication Barrier

Communication barrier is one of the biggest challenges of managing remote employees, but some of those communication-related issues are obscure and can be neglected initially but trigger problems later on.

When you don’t have enough face-to-face communication, it can be difficult to perceive the intensity of dialogues and sometimes the context of words of your team members properly. Likewise, it’s harder to read between the lines in a text message. The condition can be exacerbated if the two opposite sides of the communication medium don’t know each other as in-office employees.

The human mind is trained to focus more on the negative aspects of the statement when communicating with others because of thousands of years of primal programming that subconsciously causes us to assume something as a threat. This is what we call survival instinct.

Unfortunately, these natural defense mechanisms are devastative for human beings in the modern working environment. For instance, people face more breakups during a dispute on text messages as compare to the face to face meetings.

When sending a text message to an employee with a lack of context and tone of voice, it’s easy for them to extract negative intent when you say something they could take as a “threat”.

Feeling Left-Out

When you work remotely, you miss out on many opportunities to connect with your teammates and upper hierarchy. You may feel like your colleagues don’t have any concerns with your ideas. One can often feel like the upper hierarchy ignores you somehow.

With these possible challenges, managers can eliminate the issues by taking necessary steps like maintaining the trust and connecting efficiently with remote workers. Investing time makes listening to them, and periodic one-on-one meetings with every team member without any discrimination.

Tips for Managing Remote Employees

As we have noticed that a remote working environment involves different challenges than those of an on-site workplace. Here are the tips to make remote working more efficient and easy to adapt.

Engage in Small Talks

You can miss out on critical aspects of management due to negligible negligence in a remote working environment. Therefore, to avoid unseen errors, you must develop strong connectivity with every team member.

A friendly relationship with team members is what helps you in a better understanding of their problems. Frequently asked about the barriers they feel while communicating with you. Make this review practice a routine before making any decision.

Make them feel someone cares about them, ask them about their family, routine, and habits. It is mandatory for you to fully understand their motivations.

Video Meeting over Audio Calls

As we have discussed earlier that most human interaction is non-verbal. To know what someone is thinking is more difficult in the absence of any visual interaction.

While observing their reaction to dynamic and agile plans or trying to judge their overall motivation to work, video helps you extract and convey more contextual meaning than an audio medium or especially what text messages fail to deliver.

Most specifically, follow your gut feeling when you observe something unusual. For example, make a phone call to clear a blurred picture. Likewise, all non-verbal reactions you observe during a video meeting can be your opportunity to fix the left unrevealed problems.

Regular One-on-One Meetings

Canceling one on ones frequently builds a barrier between you and your time. There always exists a space to talk and share. Remote employees skip a lot of important stuff being carried out on site. This includes all kinds of information. Likewise, all spread across as gossip to other parts of the office and inter-office departments like small announcements.

One-on-One interaction provides an opportunity to deal with this issue. Pick a time that always works for you and mention it on your timetable. Try to postpone it but refrain from cancelation. Sometimes it can be acceptable, but not as much frequently as it becomes a new normal.

Send Emoticons and GIFs

Since most of the meanings are hidden inside non-verbal communication, it isn’t easy to convey anything just by word. In addition, especially in work, words can appear more aggressive or not as much purposeful as you meant while stating.

If someone reached a milestone and needed to be praised, send a gif to convey your emotions and send it with the caption encouraging and appreciating them, you will see how much better reaction you’ll get in response when you do that instead of just sending a simple text message like “Good job”, “Nice” or “Keep it up”.

Ensure Everyone is Synced

Once you start hiring remote employees, you will face a clash in time zones. This is the most disturbing issue one can face while scheduling an online meeting. Try to record a demo session and upload it on any site and later discuss questions. It will have two benefits. First, No one will miss out on the important details and watch the demonstration as per feasibility. Secondly, you will not get distracted while demonstrating due to the bombardments of questions in between.

Make your message clear, upload your demonstration, and ask for reviews and related queries.

Be More Involved

It’s easy to think of your remote team members as sleeper cells helping you get things done just on a phone call or message. However, keep in mind you have hired them as employees, refrain from discriminating and treat them like any other on-site team member, not a freelancer.

Just like the members of your on-site team, your remote workers have inspirations, plans, and career objectives. So make sure they can enjoy the privileges of work-life balance and spare time for goals and growth.

Improve the Engagement

Another important tip for managing remote teams is to involve remote members in ongoing phone calls randomly whenever necessary same as you frequently involve them while on-site working. It’s worth bringing them in or waiting until they’re available.

If you act like it doesn’t matter or that it is normal to loop in your remote team members while being cut off from the on-site workers, the rest of your juniors will set it as a model practice.

Respect the Ideas

Last but not the least, the effective remote practice is to shift brainstorming of all kinds to the digital platform.

Remote employees stand on the edge of losing the battle regarding the bombardment and exchange of ideas. However, you can make a difference by providing them a platform to share ideas with the rest of the team and improve them.

Tips To Work from Home During COVID-19

As you are reading this article in 2020, it’s more important to learn how to be an effective manager while working with remote teams. Managing remotely is far different from managing onboard; that is why you are here on this blog post.

With much of the world bound to work from home as nations are trying to contain the spread of CoronaVirus, taking containment measures in the form of strict lockdowns, managers and employees are put with the burden of evolving rapidly to work from home with the same level of productivity as they used to do in on-site workspaces.

To help your colleagues perform their best in this pandemic, here are some additional tips.

Curbing Isolation

Unfortunately, with COVID, we’re all forced to work from home in isolation.

Whether you’re in a studio apartment or a bungalow or moved to a cottage in the hill station, every place will turn into prison if you are bound to spend 24 hours in a walled boundary.

To counter this, motivate your team members to take a daily walk. There are many health benefits to this, and it pushes them out of their cozy homes turned prisons without much risk of intersecting the virus.

Dedicated Workspace

Workplace matters a lot. If you are bound to work from home, you must set up a proper work desk, LED screens, ergonomically perfect chairs, etc.

Make sure your employees have a dedicated workspace at home to work from.

Conclusion

There is a lot in common between working remotely and the way you use to work during on-site postings. But the challenges of managing remote employees are much different, and it’s a big mistake to assume everything works the same way and nothing needs to be changed or evolved.

Remote employees face different challenges, and both juniors and upper hierarchy need to acknowledge the barriers and challenges along the way to effectively manage work while maintaining productivity. It’s time for us to launch ourselves for a world where remote work is quickly becoming the new normal.

Let us know in the comments section about your experience of working remotely or managing remote employees.

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