Tips for managing your remote workforce in the long term

Have you found yourself with a remote workforce because of the coronavirus pandemic? Obviously, you’re not alone. Reacting fast to this change was necessary to keep your business operating.

The restrictions that are in place right now are not going away any time soon. So now is the time for you to start planning how you intend to operate your business in the long term.

Here are some tips for managing your remote workforce now, and in the future.

Create a Remote Working Policy

A Remote Working Policy outlines when and how your employees are allowed to work from somewhere other than the office. This should include as a minimum the following:

  • Who is entitled to work remotely. Not all roles are suitable for remote work, and this should be clearly outlined.
  • What tools and resources your remote workers should use, and how these are made available to the employees.
  • Any pre-check requirements needed, such as a health and safety inspection of the home office.

Create a culture of trust

When you don’t have regular visibility of your employees it can be tempting to start micro-managing them. You have to stop yourself from doing this.

When you micro-manage your employees, you damage their self esteem, their willingness to put in the extra effort, and their trust in you. Because why should they trust you, if you don’t trust them?

Instead, you should work on building a culture of trust in your business. Check out our tips for building trust with your employees.

Find the right level of communication

There are more ways to communicate with your remote workforce than ever before. Video conference, text chat, voice calls, and even email. Set out some guidelines about which method to use in given situations.

How many times have you been on a video conference call that could have been summed up with a couple of lines using instant messenger chat?

Or how often has a week long exchange of emails lead to confusion that a quick video call could clear up in a matter of minutes?

One size does not fit all when it comes to communication and you should set some best practice advice. As a minimum, set a maximum call length for every video conference call to stop them dragging on when they don’t need to.

Give your employees what they need

Make sure you give your employees what they need to do their job.

Make sure they have the software they need and access to support when required.

Will they be involved in video conference calls? Make sure they have a decent web camera and headset/microphone and that they know how to use them.

Outcomes over processes

In an office environment it is easy to set out a lot of processes and ensure that your employees follow them. When it comes to your remote workers, a little flexibility goes a long way.

Give your employees the freedom to work hours that suit them best. Or at the very least negotiate a suitable compromise that works best for them and the business.

If they want to use slightly different tools to accomplish the same jobe, and it’s not going to impact the rest of the business, you should let them. Let them innovate with their day-to-day process and if the results don’t happen, work with them to adapt.

The focus should be on delivering the expected outcome, not sticking to the same old process you have followed for years.

Reward and recognition

Motivate your remote workers by acknowledging their contributions both individually and more publicly.

When you recognise the performance of an employee, you boost their motivation and job satisfaction immensely. You also send a little flag to other employees to show what you expect from them too.

Encourage your entire team to take this approach. Peer appreciation is fantastic for morale in any organisation. But it has extra impact with a remote workforce when it’s less obvious that your colleagues respect and value you.

A great place to start is to simply encourage the use of “thank you”. You’d be surprised how much of an immediate impact that can have.