Instructions For Managers: How To Manage Remote Employees

woman-manager-entrepreneur-working from home

The popularity of remote work is growing, and many managers want to implement this format in their companies. But they’re afraid that they won’t be able to control their work processes. You can start small by reading these tips…

Advice. 1. Move on to remote work gradually

Managing a remote team requires a completely different level of trust in your employees. If you’re used to having your colleagues in the office all the time, it’s likely to be a lot of stress if you stop seeing them there.

Treat yourself and your subordinates with love and rebuild the work process gradually. For example, choose one day in the week when employees can work from home if they wish.

The Stanford University experiment showed that the productivity of employees who were given the opportunity to work from anywhere increased by 17%. However, at the end of the experiment half of them chose to return to the office. You’re likely to win if you let your employees sometimes work remotely – and you’ll be able to see how disciplined they are without risk to the project.

The main thing is to immediately warn your subordinates that the days of the week for work outside the office do not accumulate, otherwise one day an employee may come to you and ask you to work from home for a month due to the fact that he had not used this opportunity before.

Advice. 2. Provide your subordinates with everything they need

This point seems obvious, but it cannot be underestimated. If your remote employees have trouble accessing the right resources, if they only hear static on conference boards or are constantly being invited to meetings at night, then your idea has failed.

First select solutions for communication and teamwork, and then develop clear instructions for their use. The main requirements for the solutions should be reliability, availability, ease of use and free of charge for employees, as well as compatibility with other products.

A considerable part of the manager’s time is spent on discussing working issues. To organize this process efficiently, it is best to use one platform or messenger. In this case you do not need to switch from one working window on your computer to another, which will save you a lot of time and nerves.

We work in a single communication system based on our own solutions, which at the same time helps to test them. New employees are usually sent a “letter” with a brief description of all key resources and tools that may be needed, instructions for use and a link to an internal website where all employees and their areas of responsibility are listed.

To check how well your employees have adapted to their new environment, you need to ask them for feedback.

Advice. 3. Think of a communication strategy

According to a study conducted in 2017, 66% of respondents are worried that they are not perceived as responsible employees when working outside the office. It’s your job as a manager to convince them otherwise.

·       Introduce the employees to each other.

Get your employees acquainted with each other and try to establish communication. If they address current issues, you’ll free up the routine and be able to devote more time to strategic tasks.

·       Send a welcome letter to the staff.

It is necessary to help employees to join the team from the very first day. Send a welcome letter to the whole team with a photo of the new team member, communication methods, pages in social networks, a brief description of his area of responsibility, hobbies, etc. This will help him find like-minded people more quickly.

·       Congratulate your employees on important dates and praise them.

You are the initiator of communication, congratulate your employees on important dates, publicly praise them for their success. Thanks to this, remote developers see that their personal small area of responsibility is a part of a big project, in other words, that they are an important part of a big mechanism.

·       Write the rules of communication

Write down the rules of communication, for example, all e-mails must be answered within 24 hours, except for the weekend.
Choose a single platform for communication, create two chats – for business questions and for flood.
Think about how many reports your employees should submit, try not to make this their main task (maybe just a letter is enough).
Be prepared to follow these rules yourself: if you don’t respond to an employee’s letter, it may seem that their work is not important.

Advice. 4. Use video communication

According to a study by PGI, a global provider of conferencing and collaboration solutions, 87% of remote employees feel better about participating in video conferencing. This is most likely because we receive a significant amount of information through non-verbal signals.

It is worth taking the habit of communicating with colleagues one-on-one or arranging group video conferences several times a week. Even more so because the possibilities of video communication are constantly growing.

I usually make a few video calls a day. But some companies have moved on. For example, Buffer employees are on video call all the time. This makes it easier for them to communicate, gives them a sense of working from a single office and greater cohesiveness.

Advice. 5. Leadership, not control.

The requirements for communication skills of the remote team leader are much higher than those of an office manager. Remote employees are often disconnected from the main information flows within the company. Your task is to inform your subordinates about global goals and changes in projects, so that they understand their role and the importance of their work, and most importantly, be aware of all important changes, in particular concerning the timing of tasks and new tools.

Every person understands the words “fast” and “good” in their own way. Make sure you set clear deadlines and KPIs for your employees. If a colleague works from a different time zone, it is quite possible that you will receive a report, which should be ready on Friday, only on Saturday.

At Zapier, for example, they look at whether a job offers a date and time stamped with a time zone, and whether the job sends invitations to the calendar.

After talking to remote employees for a while, I realized that it was counterproductive to keep track of how they were doing their job. It causes distrust and cold within the team, and it also takes a lot of effort. I had to switch from surveillance process to results tracking. If for some reason I’m not sure if the employee is up to the task, then I’m dividing it into several steps, each of which I ask for reports.

It is also important to ensure that the load on employees is evenly distributed. Without seeing what time they leave the office, it is much harder to do so. You can better control team, using employee monitoring software, in these programs, employees either enter the number of hours worked once a day or record the beginning and end of the working day.


Thomas Simon is a freelance writer and productivity expert, reviews new productivity/monitoring software programs and apps. He has extensive experience in writing about various topics including technology, gadgets, social media, and digital marketing.