When President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum in 2014 on the topic of Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs, it was done to help businesses attract, empower, and retain the workforce of the future. The document outlined a number of measures to ensure the benefits of telework were maximized for the employee and employer, administrative burdens were minimized, and that the stage would be set for employee success in the future.
The case for managing remote employees is significant. Companies with remote employees save money on office space and technology. Employees not only enjoy the flexibility of working from anywhere they choose, but they also cut down on (or eliminate completely) both the cost and time of travel, providing them a greater sense of work-life balance.
So it’s a win/win, right?
Maybe. Managing employees you don’t see on a day-to-day basis isn’t as simple as sending tasks via email and the occasional text message. Learning how to be an effective (virtual) manager in this case has become a huge priority—and rightfully so.
Here are four challenges of managing remote employees (and some guidance on how to properly navigate these unchartered waters).
Determining Eligibility—Above all else, consider an employee’s attitude, work ethic, and personality when deciding if an employee is a candidate for remote work. Do they align with the company’s remote work expectations and can they hold themselves accountable? Telework may not be the right fit for everyone and it’s important to be able to make that determination.
Maintaining Communication—Communication tools are key. Be it chat or video teleconference services, it’s crucial for employees to be regularly active on communication channels. Establish core hours and have everyone commit to responding within a defined period of time.
Establishing Trust—Also known as The Holy Grail. For a virtual manager and employee relationship to be successful, trust must be earned…both ways. Set clear expectations and communicate to your virtual employees that you’re a resource to help solve problems, navigate obstacles, and give directions when needed.
Creating a Company Culture—Maintain team connectivity by establishing regular visits to the office for virtual employees. All employees, whether they work in or outside of the office, collaborate best when they’ve established personal relationships and when there’s a vibrancy of corporate culture. It’s up to you to determine the frequency for gathering your teams together in person.
Companies with successful remote work programs have established a series of practices, processes, and technologies that everyone is aware of and contributes to. Telework is one of the more attractive benefits a company can offer; a Global Workplace Analytics study found that 95 percent of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.
Telework has the ability to build employee morale and drive growth for businesses—but only when carried through correctly. Do you have doubts about the effectiveness of your company’s remote work policy? Are you considering establishing one? Smart HR works with small- to mid-sized companies to develop and implement policies, strategies, and initiatives to help make your workplace the best it can be.
Learn more about our outsourced HR offerings here for help managing remote employees.