Although remote workers had already become a growing trend, many employers have had a remote workforce thrust on them unexpectedly. How do you manage them?
Despite repeated assurances that technology has made remote workforce management "easy", the reality is that there are many different dynamics to deal with. And technology doesn't address all of them.
Remote Workers: Technology Is Essential
Technology definitely plays a critical role in successfully running a business with a remote workforce and for managing those workers. Communication is always key for a functional business operation, but the added dynamic of operating "virtually" makes communications technology essentially vital.
Keep in mind that, currently, in the midst of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic, that many customer support departments are understaffed and overwhelmed.
Here are some of the top team collaboration software solutions being used today:
Google G Suite
G Suite is a suite of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed by Google Cloud,
Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration.
Slack is an instant messaging platform that allows groups or teams to join a "workspace" via a specific URL or invitation and was developed for organizational communication
Zoom provides video conferencing for up to 100 participants, with a 40-minute time limit. Paid subscriptions allow more participants, increase the time limit, and obtain more advanced features
Trello is a web-based Kanban-style list-making application. Trello has a variety of work uses including software project management, lesson planning, accounting, and law office case management.
There are numbers of other tools available and the ability to combine diverse software solutions means that communicating with and managing a remote workforce it far easier today than ever.
Remote Workforce: Process Challenges
Working from home presents challenges for both the employer and the employee, according to Harvard Business Review (HBR), these often take the form of,
- Lack of face-to-face supervision
- Lack of access to information
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Distractions at home
Remote work can be fraught with challenges and the brunt of stepping up to them is on managers. Fortunately, there are relatively quick and inexpensive actions that managers can take to ease the transition.
The HBR article suggests the following:
Establish structured daily check-ins: Many successful remote managers establish a daily call with their remote employees. This could take the form of a series of one-on-one calls, if your employees work more independently from each other, or a team call, if their work is highly collaborative.
Provide several different communication technology options: Email alone is insufficient. Remote workers benefit from having a “richer” technology, such as video conferencing, that gives participants many of the visual cues that they would have if they were face-to-face.
Establish “rules of engagement”: Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams. For example, “We use videoconferencing for daily check-in meetings, but we use IM when something is urgent.”
Provide opportunities for remote social interaction: One of the most essential steps a manager can take is to structure ways for employees to interact socially (that is, have informal conversations about non-work topics) while working remotely.
In addition to these tactics, it is essential for all managers to provide regular encouragement and emotional support. Because of the dynamics of an abrupt shift to remote work, it is important for managers to both recognize and acknowledge employee stress, listen their concerns, and empathize with their struggles.
Management must take an intentional and focused lead with their direct reports, especially for those who are newly dislocated and now working remotely. This means, among other things, helping your employees with prioritization.
According to Fast Company,
Given the dramatic changes going on both in the outside world and within your organization, you need to provide vision and direction on the current priorities. Ideally, you’ll want to meet with each team member one-on-one to discuss how you want each person to direct their focus. If that’s not possible, at least have a team meeting to discuss what you see as the top priorities and what you believe can wait for now.
As managers, being able to pivot quickly, apply a greater degree of discretion and prioritization, and anticipate issues as much as possible will benefit both managers and their employees.
Help for Your Workforce Management
HR staff have a growing and demanding role in recruiting, hiring, and continually training employees. In addition, they are responsible for other functions such as employee development, payroll management, employee records compliance, and managing employee benefits.
Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands.
Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.