8 ways to effectively manage a remote workforce

manage a remote workforce

Would you treat remote direct reports the same way you treated staff co-located? I guess not. Remotes’ situation has a unique approach for it to thrive. Most often than not, you’ll have to go above and beyond when it comes to management fundamental— making remote-friendly adjustments along the way.

Here are eight ways to effectively manage your remote workforce.

Have a conversation about “Ground Rules”

It’s common for remote to lag when they need your input on something. They find it challenging getting your attention between meetings for quick approvals. To make matters worse, if you’re in a different time zone, half a day may be gone before you weigh in. If your remotes have to wait for your approval all the time, productivity will be hampered. On the flip side, if they act without it; they may be heading for the rocks.

Run through possible scenarios that may crop up and how they could go about it. Discuss the competency in handling such situations.

Block off availability to be more accessible

Most managers have a lot to their hands already—they hardly notice a colleague sitting a few meters away not to talk of a remote member who is far less visible. The thing here is that remotes challenges are not perceived until they have become bigger issues.

To address this, block off availability to be there for them—that could mean being available when it’s inconvenient for you, especially when they are in a different time zone.

Provide free time for 1-on-1 chat

Well, you may say chitchat is a time-waste—that is, if you overdo it. And if you decide to let it slip, you miss the opportunity to build rapport with your remotes.  It helps to know their emotional state.

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Spend the first five minutes to understand what’s new about him or her. With time, you’d have built some go-to topics to leverage on. Make the meetings interactive and not like they’re being interrogated.

Do you push out enough assignments?

According to research, managers tend to give smaller, less critical tasks—despite the remote’s suitability for the job. Remotes are physically closer, so they’re better fitted to hand more essential assignments—but don’t overdo it.

Ensure you compare the importance, scope, and complexity of assignments you want to delegate to each team member. The goal is not to negatively impact performance or stunt remotes’ career growth.

Make up for the sparse and shallow feedback

Putting off feedback conversations is one of the easiest things to do due to communication logistics. It happens when there is redirecting feedback to share. So many managers dread this activity and may delay for too long with co-located team members.

Make it a duty to provide ample feedback to remotes as at when necessary. Spend about 5-15 minutes on your 1-on-1 sessions to provide carefully considered feedback. You may want to set a quota for the number of times you give feedback to direct reports.

Seek Remotes’ input during virtual meetings

For a meeting to be considered beneficial, it has to have back-and-forth discussions and the group’s energy of participation. You need to know if remotes are contributing to the progress of the team—or a face on the wall.

Use facilitation techniques to quiet other participants. Ensure members that join  remotely have the opportunity to weigh in on the project at hand.

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Join forces to Overcome professional development challenges

You need to understand that your remotes may still be far-off when it comes to coaching conversations. It may be difficult for them to pick tips from your top salesperson. And thumbing through that professional development book in the lounge may be too much of a task for them.

So, what’s the deal here?

In as much as remotes are responsible for their fair share of development, it doesn’t mean their challenges are entirely their problems—they will also affect you or your company in any way. Find common grounds where you could get them up to speed with learning opportunities. That way, you’re positing your company for greater success years ahead.

Make your remote more visible to the rest of the organisation

It was found that remotes workers at a call center were 50 per cent less likely to earn a promotion than co-located team members—according to a study carried out by a group of Stanford economists.

Don’t let your remotes hard work go unrecognized, because you’ll be doing them a great disservice. Appreciate their small wins and let the organization see each of the miles stone achievements.

Your remotes can be at their best. You need to set the ball rolling by calling their attention to “what should” and “should not.” That way, everybody will be better for it—the organization thrives as well as your remotes workers.

Sara Elicon
Sara Elicon

Sara started her technical writing career years ago as an IT Project Manager creating both business and technical documents. With experience in composing manuals and guides, she turned her love of writing toward consumer tech and the internet. She is currently working as a writer and CEO of MoboHost.

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