Managing a remote team is not easy. Managers the world over learned this almost overnight, as millions of organizations sent their employees home in the wake of Coronavirus. What happens to the office culture when 90% of the way you once interacted is no longer available? Our team at GoComputek has been working remotely for the last 10 years. In that time, we’ve learned what it takes to make a remote team successful. We’re glad to share some of our remote-management basics: flexibility, tools, co-responsibility and rewards.
Flexibility is Everything
In a remote environment, managers must be open to changing their management style. What works in a co-located, day-to-day office space may not find its direct remote corollary. For example, if your remote employees have children with them at home, the hours they can work may vary. While your employee may not be able to clock in and out at the same time every day, they should still be responsible for getting their work done within a particular timeframe. You know how long it takes to get certain tasks done. So, you should have a good idea as to whether or not that employee is wasting time. On the other hand, some employees may finish a project in less than the time allotted for it. It’s important for managers of remote workers to measure progress in terms of efficiency rather than routine.
Remote workers cannot hope to succeed without a modern set of work tools. Communication and collaboration can’t be affected by working from home. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that his or her staff has the proper setup to be able to work from home. That includes hardware and software. The tools your organization uses depends on the type of work you do. One size does not fit all. We have embraced Microsoft’s Office 365 Suite, which includes apps like Teams, SharePoint, Planner and OneDrive to name a few. Teams integrates with the files in SharePoint to facilitate simultaneous editing of documents, spreadsheets and any type of project you might be working on. It also allows for chatting, video conferencing and calling. Planner tracks projects and their progress. OneDrive offers cloud-based file storage. Whatever you decide to use, be sure to focus on integration and communication.
Conditions and Co-responsibility
Once you’ve provided an employee with the tools he or she needs to succeed in a remote setting, it’s their turn to create a productive work environment. Not everyone has a home office at their house but setting up a workstation doesn’t require a lot of space. Wherever it is that your employees set up their workspace, they are responsible for maintaining a proper work environment. This includes not leaving sensitive documents or electronic information in view. It also includes not allowing others to use their work computer, laptops, or other electronic devices. Remote workers will never be successful unless they can create a meaningful boundary between their workspace and equipment and the rest of their home life.
When a remote employee is managed well, has the right tools, and is responsible, the rewards stack up. Employers save overhead in office supplies, utilities and real estate costs. Employees save money in gas and tolls, save time commuting, and get to create a schedule that works around with the rhythm of their lives rather than against it. Highly productive employees spend less time “clocked in” and get to spend more time on their personal lives and hobbies.
Flexibility, tools, co-responsibility and rewards are just a starting point. If you’d like to know more about managing remote workers or need some help deciding which tools would best suit your team, give us a call. We we’d be happy to offer you the benefit of 15 years of IT experience! Get started here.