As technology continues to advance, employers have more flexibility when it comes to hiring and managing staff. Despite this, it’s only relatively recently that businesses have fully embraced the benefits of remote working.
In fact, many companies only made the switch to a distributed workforce in response to operating restrictions enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With employees unable to access their usual workplace, companies were quick to roll out remote platforms to enable staff to work from home.
Since then, an increasing number of people have expressed a desire to work remotely on a permanent basis. With more flexibility and no commute to worry about, it seems that working from home could become commonplace in the near future.
Of course, it isn’t just individuals who are benefiting from the widespread introduction of remote teams. Businesses are realizing that they can substantially reduce their costs by using a distributed workforce and, therefore, increase productivity and profitability.
With so many advantages associated with remote working, it seems that more and more companies will continue to hire staff on this basis in the future. However, managing remote teams requires a different approach to leading an office-based workforce. To ensure you’re getting the best performance from your employees, take a look at these top tips for managing remote teams now:
1. Get the Right Tech in Place
Your tech infrastructure is going to be integral to the success of your remote working arrangements. Without a reliable setup, you’ll face cybersecurity issues, unnecessary downtime, and communication difficulties. If you don’t have an in-house IT department, it’s well worth outsourcing your needs to a specialist company. With IT managed services, for example, you can access 24/7 support, as well as bespoke services, such as IT consultancy and installation.
However, it isn’t just the basic infrastructure you need to consider when you’re managing a distributed workforce. Ensuring employees have access to the relevant systems and platforms is also critical. Whether you’re in charge of 10 or 1,000 people, using an automated user management system can keep software and data secure, while still allowing your staff to operate efficiently.
2. Hire the Right People
One of the advantages of having remote teams is the potential to hire people from all over the world. When location is no longer a barrier to hiring the top talent, you really can attract the best candidates and outperform your competitors.
When you’re hiring people from different parts of the world, however, it’s important to remember that you will need to have country-specific contracts and management protocols in place. To facilitate this without substantially increasing your in-house resources and costs, you may want to use a specialist firm.
If you’re hiring employees in Asia but you’re based in the U.S., for example, you may want to consider a recruitment agency. With a Taiwan recruitment agency, you can access the top talent in the country without investing heavily in visiting the area and launching your own recruitment processes. Similarly, firms like New Horizons also offer region-specific payroll and HR services, as well as global PEO and compliance management. By using a specialist company to facilitate recruitment from all over the world, you can fill your remote team with the best talent, without worrying about the varying employment regulations.
3. Incorporate Visual Communication
When people are working remotely, they tend to communicate via email, instant messages, and voice calls. Although these are certainly effective ways to communicate with one another, they don’t allow people to interpret verbal cues or body language.
It’s widely believed that we mainly use non-verbal cues to express ourselves and to pick up on messages from other people. Essentially, our body language and tone of voice convey our message better than the actual words we say. When communication is limited to text-based correspondence or sporadic voice calls, it’s easy to see how misinterpretation can occur.
Fortunately, this is an easy problem to remedy. Companies can simply use video conferencing to facilitate visual communication between team members. From one-to-one meetings to larger, team events; hosting a video call allows people to express themselves more clearly and to communicate with each other more effectively.
4. Factor in Social Events
One of the major drawbacks of remote working is the lack of company. Many people find that working from home on a full-time basis can be lonely and isolating. In addition to this, it can be hard to get to know your coworkers when you may not need to interact very often. As any manager knows, building strong bonds between team members is vital for success.
When you’re managing a remote team, it’s important to take the initiative when it comes to informal socializing. Your staff won’t have the opportunity to chat between phone calls or to exchange pleasantries over a cup of coffee, so you’re going to need to organize regular virtual events instead.
With icebreaker games, online quizzes, regular video meetings, and even shared, virtual lunchbreaks, you can encourage your staff to get to know other team members and ensure they feel like a valued member of your squad.
5. Schedule One-to-One Time with Staff
When people are working remotely, they can’t schedule a face-to-face meeting with you easily or have a quick chat when you’re not busy. This can make it tricky for them to approach with interpersonal issues that they may require your support with. If someone requires time off due to on-going family issues, for example, it can be harder to express this over email or instant message. Similarly, you might find it harder to gauge when an employee is struggling with something if you’re not in the same office or workspace.
To ensure your staff feel comfortable talking to you when they need to, schedule regular one-to-one time with every member of your team. This gives them the opportunity to bring up any concerns they may have, and it also gives you the chance to get to know them matter. When you’re managing a remote team, there’s a good chance you’ll have never met your colleagues ‘in real life’. By having regular one-to-one, virtual meetings, however, you can ensure that team members feel able to ask for help when they need to.
Introducing Remote Working Arrangements
Due to the on-going COVID-19 outbreak, many businesses were forced to introduce remote working arrangements rather hastily. Now that we’re more familiar with how remote working can benefit both staff and companies, it’s time to start implementing more structured arrangements and taking a proactive approach to building a distributed workforce.
While the nature of your business may mean that some members of staff need to operate from a specific physical location, most companies can facilitate remote working for at least a proportion of their workforce. In doing so, you can increase employee satisfaction and reduce your company’s overheads.
With these handy tips, you can begin to create a bespoke strategy for your workplace. As every business has different needs, you’ll need to be creative and take an innovative approach to developing flexible, remote working arrangements. With the right input from IT experts, productivity specialists, and logistics executives, however, you can devise remote working strategies that benefit your staff and your business.