Are your remote workers out of sight, and out of mind?
As the world becomes increasingly digital, the demand for remote work is higher than ever. Companies are discovering that mobile and at-home workers can be just as effective as their in-office counterparts. What’s more, these employees demand fewer overheads.
The only problem? Managing a remote workforce isn’t the same as guiding an in-office team.
As your office becomes more ‘hybrid’ with different working styles, it’s increasingly important to understand how to connect both in-office and out-of-office teams.
Here’s how to get started.
1. Create the right employee onboarding process
If you’re wondering how to work with a remote team and office-based employees at the same time, it all starts with the right onboarding process.
With team members in an office, your new hires can easily ask questions and get to know people when they’re present in the workplace. However, when you’re running a partially remote team, there’s no initial introductory stage.
So, how do you set up a remote team?
Start by making sure they have all the tools and information they need to thrive.
Set your employees up on your preferred collaboration tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with through video conferencing and provide any necessary training through virtual experiences.
You can even send remote employees a document outlining some of the key things they need to know about the job, such as who to turn to when they need help.
2. Establish multiple lines of communication
Communication is the key to any successful team. If you want to ensure that your employees are feeling connected at work, then you need to provide plenty of ways for people to reach each other.
Relying on email and the occasional call might not be the right strategy. It’s easy for your remote team to feel left out of the loop if they don’t get enough correspondence.
Ask yourself: “How do you bond with a remote team?”
Start by going beyond basic communication options like email and phone calls. Video conferences can mimic face-to-face interaction and spark stronger relationships. Instant messaging ensures that your teams are constantly part of the conversation.
Remember that managing remote teams isn’t just about providing them with regular company updates. It’s also important that your team has a place where they can chat with their colleagues and build relationships.
3. Offer visibility into business operations
Team members in a physical office can chat about their accomplishments and inspire their team members to enhance their performance.
So, how do you motivate virtual employees when friendly competition and regular inspiration isn’t available? Start by offering visibility into what’s happening within your business. Aside from just giving your team members targets to reach and goals to meet, let them see how they’re performing compared to their peers.
Analytics tools that track the performance of individual employees can drive better results by giving your teams higher scores to strive for. You can even provide rewards and bonuses to people who get the best results.
Gathering information about your teams is also a great way to pinpoint which employees need more training and guidance. Based on the benchmarks you discover; you can give employees a clearer insight into what you expect from them.
4. Make information easy to access
Knowledge is power in a hybrid workplace.
When your team members can’t always turn to the person next to them for help, you need to ensure that they have a way of solving their own problems.
Rather than just asking questions like “how do you engage employees who work remotely?” it’s important to consider how you can keep those people informed and productive.
A centralised knowledge base where your team members can access everything from training to brand statements is a crucial resource. Ideally, they will then be able to use the information you give to answer questions for themselves when other members of the team aren’t available.
Just remember that there also needs to be someone available to respond to your remote employees if they can’t solve their problem alone.
5. Conduct regular meetings
Finally, one of the most important steps of managing remote teams is making them feel like they’re part of the family.
Although offering various modes of communication is great, it’s also worth ensuring that you push your work-from-home staff to stay connected with regular meetings.
Depending on your company and how often things change around the office, you might host a conference once per week where you discuss goals and accomplishments.
If your employees are happy just chatting with their colleagues over instant messaging most of the time, a meeting every two weeks might be enough.
Along with professional meetings that update everyone on what the company is doing, it’s also a good idea to have a few minutes each week where your employees can just chat, or ‘check in’ on each other. Remember, remote work can get lonely.
Managing remote teams in the new workplace
Managing remote teams can be tough.
Whether you’ve got a workforce that’s operating entirely from home, or you’re dealing with a hybrid team of in-office and remote employees, you need the right plan.
If your business hasn’t explored remote working before, it’s easy to get lost. Many business leaders have questions like “How do you build culture in a remote team?” or “How do you implement remote working?”
The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to building the perfect hybrid workforce.
The tips above will help to set you on the right track, but you’ll need to make sure you’re measuring employee engagement and performance regularly if you want to keep going in the right direction.
Remember, get plenty of feedback from your staff wherever possible, and keep an eye on performance metrics. That information should tell you if your strategy is working.