One of the things we love about technology is how much it’s changes the world of work. From the invention of CRM systems to manage everything in one place, through to video conferencing software so sophisticated it’s like you’re in the same room. And with VR and AR video conferencing technologies on the rise, it’s set to get even better. But the thing we love the most is the flexibility it gives employees. Gone are the days of the traditional 9-5, or the employee shackled to their desks for their entire working day. Flexible working means that employees can work at any time, from anywhere, on anything. 
For employers, this is also a blessing. But it does also raise some problems, particularly around the management of remote workers. After all, a lot of traditional management practices rely on being in the same office as the person you manage – or at least in the same building! So when your workers are remote, you need to adjust your management approach to account for that distance. Since we get asked about this a lot, we thought we would give you some of our top tips for managing remote workers. 
Establish Trust 
We’ve put this one first because frankly, if you don’t get this one right, everything else will feel almost impossible to manage. You see, despite all the benefits of remote working (that have been proven time and time again) 46% of remote workers report still feeling that working from home meant there was more pressure to prove they were being productive. There are always comments of ‘I have to show that I’m not goofing off’, or ‘I have to be extra-productive to make up for being at home’’, which just aren’t healthy. This highlights a common paranoia in managers that their staff aren’t working if they aren’t visible to them. This is something you need to overcome if you want to manage remote workers effectively. Establishing trust with your employees will ultimately mean that they perform better for you, and will be happier at work with less pressure. This may mean learning to manage your own worries about productivity, and not micro-managing your employees out of fear they aren’t really working. 
Set Clear Expectations 
Everyone has a different idea of what doing something ‘quickly’ or ‘well’ means. When you’re in front of a person, or just a few steps away, it’s easy to remedy any misunderstandings right away – but not with remote workers. You need to make sure you set clear expectations with your remote employees from the get-go, so that they (and you) know exactly what needs to be done, and how. Share examples of what you want to be done, share calendars to ensure deadlines are clear and give clear, concise briefs. This avoids any misunderstandings that stem from the physical distance between you at any given time. 
Treat Remote As Local 
As much as possible, try to treat your remote workers the same as your local ones. Give them as much access to you as you possibly can. After all, with your local workers you might chat at the coffee machine, get caught in the hallways to answer ‘quick questions’ or even all go out for lunch. Remote workers don’t have that kind of access, and it can make them feel disconnected. So as a manager you should do what you can to mitigate that. Schedule regular Skype calls to catch up, meet for lunch if you can, or keep regular ‘open office hours’ for remote workers, where they can come to you for any support they might need. 
Use Video For Coaching 
Regular coaching, mentoring and support are key to good management, but with remote workers they are often left at the wayside, forgotten. Remote workers report that they feel less coached than their on-site counterparts, and that’s not the way it should be. That’s all up to the managers. Make sure you schedule in time to do performance reviews informally, coach them in their performance and mentor them to help achieve their goals. Eye contact is important for mentoring, which can be difficult if they aren’t in front of you. So schedule some time where you can use technology to look at each other and have a real conversation. A regular video call for a check-in and coaching session is ideal for this, as it allows remote workers to find out how they’re doing and where they need to improve. These don’t need to be big, formal documented things – they just need to happen. 
Stay Focussing On Goals, Not Activity 
We mentioned this earlier, but remote staff often feel the need to prove they are doing work things with every second of their time, This can lead to a lot of stress for both the manager and the employee, as well as a lot of unnecessary activity that usually falls into the ‘wasted time’ category. Instead, stay focussed on goals. Don’t worry so much about exactly what is being done at every second, and instead concentrate on what’s being accomplished. As long as your remote workers are meeting their goals and submitting the work they need to on time, then all is good with the world. You don’t need to worry if they’ve nipped to the shops during the morning, used that spare 5 minutes to do some washing or if they’ve taken a slightly longer lunch to do some errands. If you focus on outcomes, not processes, then everyone will be much happier. 
At AJ HR Solutions, we spend a lot of time helping business owners understand and effectively manage their teams, both locally and remotely. We can offer training, support and ongoing guidance for businesses looking to employ remote workers – from recruiting the right person to putting systems in place and managing their ongoing performance, For more information, just get in touch with us today. 
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