With more and more companies hiring virtual employees in today’s time and age, the industry of remote work has dramatically grown. Faster and augmented Internet, coupled with technological innovations in terms of web-based communications, has greatly contributed to this sector. Nowadays, you will find remote employees across a great number of industries, with their job descriptions ranging from being freelancers to having exclusive, permanent roles.
Why remote work is a booming industry
With so many beneficial aspects of working remotely, such as having more control over work and personal life, less expenses, and greater productivity, there is no longer a need to question why so many people choose to become virtual employees. The same goes true for businesses and companies; these organizations also enjoy a multitude of benefits for offering remote work, including increased productivity levels and less carbon footprint issues just to name a few.
The remote-work related challenges that employers are faced with
From a business perspective, all these benefits can only be reaped by employers who are able to hire the best people for the job, properly manage them, and retain their star workers. Unfortunately, many find it hard to effectively manage remote workers and teams of virtual employees. Some of the most common issues that organizations encounter when it comes to remote worker/team management are associated with communication and collaboration.
What can and should be done to address these issues
Overcoming the challenges associated with managing remote workers and teams should be a top priority of companies, especially since they can contribute significantly to the overall success of the organization. Therefore, it is a must that employers know what they can and should do to address these issues.
So here are the secrets to managing remote workers that you probably have been missing out on.
Take advantage of communication and collaboration tools
If you have not been utilizing these tools, then you should start implementing their use as soon as possible.
- Basecamp. This easy-to-use yet extremely functional cloud-based tool comes with project management features. It allows for the easy streamlining of projects while also simplifying task management. Being able to keep in contact with all the members of the team with everyone staying updated on projects and their status have also been made easier by this tool.
- Google Docs. This free-to-use tool organizes files and documents into a single location that can easily be accessed by anyone it has been shared with. Real-time revisions can also be done through this tool.
- Skype. Taking advantage of this program will allow you to manage your virtual employees with no additional cost (to anyone). You can contact your team members through video and voice calls as well as chat messages. You can conduct face-to-face video conferences with up to 9 members of your team.
- Worksnaps. Worksnaps is a time tracking tool specifically developed for the use in the remote work industry. Some of its key features include visual tracking of time and work details, integration with project management tools including Basecamp and Asana, and reporting functionalities. In other word, collaborating can be done much more efficiently if you use this program.
Some of the other notable remote work management tools you should check out and consider using are MyCrowd, SnagIt, Toggl, Axure, Trello, Jing, and Cacoo.
Repeat instructions as needed
One of the greatest challenges of having to manage virtual employees is the fact that you cannot be with them in person, so you have to rely on the tools mentioned above for communication. You assign tasks and send instructions. You then just wait for the completed project and focus on another project. In most cases, the results are exceptional, especially if you have award-winning team members. There are some situations though, wherein this can actually backfire.
For example, the instructions you gave were a bit incomplete or vague. If your remote workers are used to utilizing their own creativity and skills set to complete projects, they may end up going astray the specifics of the project. Yes, the work that they have done is impressive, but it is not what you are looking for. This is why you need to repeat instructions as needed and have your employees confirm that they do understand what needs to be done.
Understand the difference between time zones
Much thanks to technology, remote workers are brought together despite being in locations that can be as far apart as possible. Information can be sent and received in an instant. However, this does not mean that you should no longer take into consideration your employees’ location, and most importantly, their time zones. This is especially true if you have not set their specific work hours.
In other words, you have to consider the possibility that your employees may already be asleep before you give them a call, unless of course, it is really urgent. Before pressing that call button, think about what time it is in the state or the country where your team member is located in. Send you a text or a chat message first. If you do not get a response immediately, chances are, he/she is already asleep. Make that late night or very-early-in-the-morning call only if your reason is valid and is urgent in nature.
Be a manager that you would like to be an employee of
Whether you are dealing with a team of remote employees or managing a staff within the same location, you need to be a good leader. But what exactly does being a good leader mean? There is no exact answer to this, but in order for you to lead your people effectively and be respected by your team members, you have to do the following:
- Set the right rules, regulations, and procedures that will guarantee the efficient operation of the organization.
- Develop a working environment that will not only benefit the company, but will also support your team members and their best interests as well as hone their skills and talents.
- Create innovative solutions to problems.
- Welcome and embrace the creativity of your team members.
- Handle conflicts without bias.
- Be a role model who reaches goals and produces exceptional results.
In short, take some time to reflect on your personalities and attributes. Then, ask yourself this: Are you someone who you would like to work for? If no, then you cannot expect your employees, virtual or not, to respect you. Work on the qualities mentioned above and you will surely be a good manager that anyone would like to work for.