Even though it has been in practice for years, remote work has become a crucial need for many businesses as a result of the recent coronavirus pandemic. Your company's potential for growth will be impacted in the long run by how well you manage your remote staff. 

That is why you need to employ some effective work standards and automation programs. This will keep your workers' loyalty at an all-time-high and increase your business ROI. Here are 9 tips to assist you in managing remote teams, whether you are exploring a short-term approach or planning to invest in it over the long run:

1. Acknowledge Common Problems With Working Remotely

Employers are left wondering how they are supposed to effectively manage workers they hardly see in person as more staff work remotely.

The following are some difficulties that come with working remotely:

  • A sense of being left out

Even while it could be fascinating at first, working remotely might eventually lead to isolation and loneliness. This could become devastating if the manager does not come up with strategies to deal with it.

According to Harvard Business Review research, remote workers experience feelings of abandonment. Isolation and loneliness may contribute to physical and physiological health issues if they are not properly managed.

  • Absence of specific expectations and limitations

It would be wrong on your part as a manager to believe that since employees are already aware of what is required of them in the office, they should automatically understand it when working remotely. 

On the contrary, with remote working teams, it is crucial to make sure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them and set clear cut goals and expectations.

  • Deficiencies and delays in communication

While it might be easy to engage in discussion with coworkers in the morning when you gather in the cafeteria or while you're waiting for a meeting to begin, such engagement will not be possible when working remotely. 

Therefore, managers of remote teams must plan how they will replace in-person interactions at work with various kinds of communication like a daily stand-up meeting, a quick catch up before the actual day of work begins  Recorded voice messages and video chats also do the needful in such situations.

  • High levels of stress

There are obvious boundaries between work and home life when people are actively going to the office. Since this barrier is gone when working remotely, many people find themselves working longer hours, which might eventually result in burnout or decreased productivity.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list. However, it does demonstrate the need for the managers of remote staff to be informed about the difficulties they can face. It also illustrates that when workers switch to remote working, things cannot continue as usual. The protocol will need to be revisited.

2. Optimize Your Onboarding and Offboarding Processes

Effective onboarding and offboarding are difficult even when people are co-located; imagine how much more difficult it'll be in a remote setting.

You can use automated user provisioning tools to fully enhance your onboarding and offboarding procedures. User provisioning is the creation, management, modification, or deleting of a user's account and access from numerous applications and systems simultaneously, whether they are on-premise, cloud-based, or a combination of both. 

A user provisioning tool is an effective tool that helps speed up and save a huge amount of time on the entire onboarding and offboarding process. It is essential for freeing up the IT team's time and effort so that they can refocus on resolving other pressing security-related issues.

3. Choose and Make Available The Appropriate Tools and Resources

Making the required tools accessible to remote workers is a crucial component of proper team management. Managers and employees may have to consider what measures should be taken to make the transition to telecommuting easier to meet that need.

The same resources that onsite employees use must be accessible to remote workers as well, including but not limited to:

  • Manuals of policies and procedures
  • Templates and materials for presentations
  • Postal equipment and stationery
  • Business credit card
  • Applications and software
  • Company laptops
  • Software for online video conferences, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 
  • Use of electronic documents and communication tools
  • Reliable internet connectivity or a coworking space

Also, keep in mind that you and your remote workers might discover that certain tasks must be completed in the physical office for security purposes or simply because it is more efficient to communicate in person. 

Be prepared to accept the limitations of working remotely for some tasks or specific units within a broader department.

4. Clearly Define Productivity Standards For Remote Work

Establishing clear expectations is essential when discussing productivity goals with your remote employees. Some productivity requirements will change depending on the position; others might remain the same throughout the organization.

Although keeping track of productivity criteria may seem like an unnecessary extra burden, it can assist in identifying trends that require attention. 

It can also help you to identify stress or the need for more training to remove a productivity-affecting barrier.

5. Effective Communication

Although managing remote teams isn't significantly different from supervising onsite teams, remote work adds complexity to the managerial position. No matter where they are, managers face the same fundamental difficulties when it comes to managing teams - in office or remote.

Dealing with unpleasant conversations with staff is one of the difficulties that every manager must deal with at some point. These conversations usually center on the following topics:

  • Unfavorable comments regarding a particular behavior
  • Personnel concerns
  • Unfavorable evaluations of work performance 
  • Demotions or forced changes to one's job responsibilities 

Without a doubt, having hard talks with employees can happen anywhere. However, in a situation where a manager and employee may seldom, if at all, encounter in person, both sides are susceptible to miscommunication.

Virtually handling these challenging interactions successfully calls for more intentionality and higher emotional intelligence. 

The following tips will help you navigate one of the most challenging aspects of managing remote teams—having uncomfortable conversations:

  • Get to know your team members by taking the time to do so.
  • Develop trust.
  • Establish personal expectations.
  • Strive for clarity in communication and avoid making assumptions.
  • Review the organization's policy on remote work, including productivity criteria and guidelines for protecting sensitive data.

6. Plan Specific Days, Times, and Strategies For Team Communication

It's important to electronically gather your whole remote staff at least once a week in addition to regular one-on-one meetings.

While maintaining a professional and productive atmosphere, these virtual meetings should also allow for some humor and empathy. Allow your weekly meetings to fulfill their professional function and personalize the work and messaging personas that have replaced face-to-face conversations.

Guidelines for successful remote team meetings:

  • Make sure there is connectivity

Determine the best way to hold weekly meetings for your complete team, and ensure everyone is aware of how to participate and communicate.

  • Be empathic

Create a work-friendly environment, while also instilling a sense of humor and fun.

  • Involve everyone

Consider ice-breakers as well as other human relationship strategies to guarantee that each member of your team gets a chance to speak up during full team sessions. Some of your employees may struggle to adjust to a virtual setting.

7. Consider Your Budget

When hiring remote workers, budgets are an important consideration. Some business executives might believe that implementing remote work and reducing office space will result in a decrease in the cost of housing staff in a typical workplace.

The formula isn't exactly simple, though. Yes, your business will spend less on real estate, but depending on the amount of remote work required, those savings may be spent elsewhere.

8. Continually Check In With Remote Workers

There is no one-size-fits-all formula for how frequently a manager should communicate with remote employees, as there is with the rest of the recommendations provided here.

However, the most fruitful one-on-one conversations go beyond merely keeping track of output. They can also function well as motivation and engagement boosters for remote workers.

Scheduling one-on-one calls, whether daily, monthly, or biweekly, is an excellent idea because it can help a manager:

  • Determine the employee's general level of performance.
  • Talk about the employee's professional development plans.
  • Respond to a variety of inquiries about the employee
  • Collaborate with the staff member to locate and remove obstacles

There may be a need to perform more or less routine engagement, depending on the staff member and the requirements of their position.

Supervisors should be flexible to the demands and calendars of their team, bearing efficient workflow processes in mind and to the extent that their schedules allow.

9. Focus On Output 

In the conventional workplace, a person typically considers themselves to have completed a full day's work as long as they have checked in, are seated at their workstation, and leave at the scheduled time. 

The house and the office are now difficult to separate from one another in the environment of remote work. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to what is given rather than how much time the employee devotes sitting at a computer.

Clarity regarding the tasks that need to be completed within a certain time frame is necessary to calculate outcomes. Create milestones with specific due dates and plan meetings to check in on progress to prevent tasks from lagging.

However, some tasks call for you to monitor the amount of time a remote worker spends on them. You can explore the option of time tracking software for these types of jobs.

Remote Work Is Great Innovation

There are several important professional and societal benefits of working remotely. Recognize the advantages of working remotely, and assist your teammates in doing the same. Everyone will react to remote work differently, regardless of whether you have done it before or not.

To build a productive workplace that accommodates everyone's demands, a fine balance must be struck. The nine suggestions we've provided above should enable you to effectively lead a remote team, maintain performance standards, and reap the rewards of working remotely.