How to lead remote employees effectively is a question on the minds of many SME owners. HR, managers, and executives control a workforce that exists mainly through virtual encounters, and must reassess operations and procedures to ensure efficiency is embedded in every process.
Remote work magnifies issues that were only minimally present in office-based workforces.
Problems revolving around virtual reality include misalignment and miscommunication. This consequence is caused by the inability to;
- walk to a colleague’s desk and quickly explain something, and;
- varying schedules.
Remote employees work around a schedule that best suits their commitments, resulting in time-delays in having questions answered or assistance, which leads to assumptions and reduced productivity.
As well as communication and productivity, the wellbeing of employees also becomes an issue with a remote workforce. How? Simple, being isolated leads to feelings of isolation. Knowing you belong to a team, and feeling as though you belong to a team are very different emotions. Feelings of isolation will negatively affect one’s ability to work and quality of work.
So, as a team leader, how do you overcome these issues?
To assist you in your learning to lead a remote workforce, we’ve put together a checklist for you to use as a guide in revealing where your strengths are and where you can improve.
Checklist: How to lead remote employees
- Do I implement a seamless communication system?
- Do my colleagues have someone else to communicate with if I’m unavailable?
- Even when I’m unavailable, do my colleagues know how to contact me in case of an emergency?
- Have I implemented scheduled hours? Why/why not?
- Have I confided in my colleagues and employees whether they are content with the current communication channels.
- Is there any tension between colleagues that I’m aware of?
- Do I receive regular feedback from colleagues/employees?
- Does the business provide the appropriate tools & resources for efficient collaboration?
- Have I put daily/weekly exercises in place for team bonding (thus more effective collaboration)?
- Do I have standardised training material?
- Do I have a procedure in place to ensure the new hire receives training material specific to their department?
- Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view who has completed their training, and who hasn’t?
- Do I have a system in-place that allows full transparency so I can view which employee is up-to-date in the latest training material, and which employee requires more training?
- Do we take advantage of an LMS?
Why is this checklist relevant?
It’s the key to running a remote workforce.
If employees have a question, they must receive answers within a suitable time frame. In order to overcome misunderstandings you need to eliminate processes that encourage miscommunication.
A strategy for this? Ensure all employees have contact numbers and someone they can contact at any time (in the working day) for immediate assistance. You, as a leader, must act as the glue that keeps your team well bonded and functioning holistically.
Consider using tools that provide you with a 2-way bulk sms and email communication channel. This will allow you to quickly and efficiently provide stakeholders with recent updates.
Additionally, you can put in place set hours. Set hours are scheduled hours throughout the day (for example 8am-10am) where all employees in your team must be available for immediate interaction on your company’s communication channel (such as Slack, Skype etc).
A significant difference between a remote workforce and office-based workforce is the ability to easily collaborate.
For example, a marketer who needs information about a client quickly asks the sales desk and gets back to their task. This whole process only takes a few minutes. This isn’t so simple when everyone works on their own schedule and from their own locations!
Regardless of the company’s location (remote or in the office) teamwork is crucial for productivity. Employees that are motivated have higher job satisfaction, thus higher productivity.
So, how do you incorporate company culture to a workforce that is spread over states, and perhaps even the country?
Organise weekly meetings, perhaps a Monday morning (to talk about weekly goals), and Friday afternoon (to discuss achievements). Make it compulsory for everyone to attend. Whilst working from home allows flexibility, don’t forget that working your standard 9-5 job comes with requirements and responsibilities, so don’t be afraid of maintaining compulsory activities.
The global pandemic has resulted in consistent updates regarding operational regulations and restrictions. In order to be compliant with these regulations, your employees must be up to date with training of current workplace procedures.
This includes hygiene practices, wellbeing exercises, operational restrictions, social distancing strategies etc. The consequences of being noncompliant (internally or externally) results in large fines, and an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
Business owners should consider investing in a LMS system so new hires and existing employees receive identical training material. This promises consistency in knowledge and expectations.
More often than not misalignment stems from gaps in knowledge, which leaves room for assumptions — so train them to eliminate the possibility of generating an assumption.
Continuing our HR focus, let’s look at a new hire. A recruitment software that integrates with LMS will automatically send the appropriate training material to the new hire once it’s been auto-triggered through onboarding.
This automation ensures the hire receives the necessary training, and concretes compliance. This is the type of resource to be considered when developing a training strategy.
Communicate, collaboration and training are closely entwined, and are the three main components to be considered when deciding a a strategy to lead remote employees due to the dire consequences of overlooking their significance.
MyRecruitment+ is an Australian based cloud software that enables HR to manage their recruitment and onboarding activities from one location. MyRecruitment+ promotes productivity and collaboration, and seamlessly integrates with current HR systems to offer an end-to-end solution for sourcing, managing, processing and hiring candidates. Clients are located in AU, UK, USA, CA and NZ and include SBS, Breville and Feros Care.