One of the greatest challenges for managers these days is overseeing a remote workforce. This telecommuting trend shows no sign of subsiding. In 2012, 39 percent of U.S. employees worked remotely at least occasionally. That number has now grown to 50 percent. This reflects full-time employees, not freelancers who may also be part of your workplace team. Freelance help is another trend that is becoming increasingly common. With this change becoming more prevalent, how can a manager keep everyone connected and projects flowing smoothly?
Communication makes the difference
It all comes down to communication! Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, successful managers need to focus on communication that builds individual and team relationships, not just on communicating tasks and deadlines. This helps projects work seamlessly and gives employees the impetus to discuss issues before they become problems. Tasks, deadlines, and work progress should always be part of the communication equation. However, a manager must be careful when doing this, so employees still feel empowered and don’t think they are being micromanaged. It’s a difficult path to tread.
Listening is important
Successful managers are those that take time to listen. That’s critical for creating trust and respect. It also helps managers understand how employees are handling projects and their commitment to meeting deadlines. Speaking with work-at-home (WAH) employees is particularly important because 21 percent of remote workers say that loneliness is one of their main issues. The best managers make establishing and maintaining relationships with their remote staff a priority.
How we manage work at Strategic
Our team at Strategic includes on-site and WAH and contract employees. Everyone meets on a regularly scheduled weekly phone call to manage workflow and keep each other informed about each project and any issues. Team leaders also arrange separate meetings and phone calls to manage assignments.
Every organization has its own culture and should find the method that works best for them. For more ideas about engaging your remote workforce, you can view this video from Workforce Focus.
We’d love to hear from you. What issues do you have with managing remote workers? What works well for you? Every suggestion is a good one and can help others who are in the same situation you are in do their job successfully. Comment on this blog and let others know your ideas.