How to Manage Remote Workers

  in  Human Resources
Keeping a team of remote workers in check is a daunting task for even the most experienced of managers. There's a vastly different set of skills and tricks that separate remote management from the face-to-face version, and it can be difficult to know precisely what your team will best respond to - especially when both sides of the working partnership are navigating the oft-ambiguous waters of online interaction. We have put together a handful of tips for engaging and supporting remote workers to make the process a little easier.

Don't be too lax about working hours and deadlines
There's a mystifying tendency to think that remote work will entail sleep-ins and minimal effort, but it is your job to put that skewed attitude to rights. If your workers live across a variety of time zones, then work with them to draft a schedule and a protracted project timeline that is both achievable and motivating. When a member of your team reaches an important milestone or review point, then take it seriously; both you and your employees will benefit in the short- and long- run if you enforce a schedule fairly and efficiently. Online tools like Trello allow managers to oversee the movements of their workers in real-time, and are proven to increase output. A major issue for remote workers is the propensity to reduce productivity in the working day and to make up for it all through the night, so it is up to you as manager to afford your employees (and yourself!) the best chance of a normal 8 or 9 hour working day.

Communicate more than you strictly need to
In a physical office, you might swing by an employee's desk every Monday to check how their weekend was or to chat over coffee, but it is far more difficult to maintain a healthy level of communication when you are managing a remote workforce. Your employees need to feel valued and cared for personally, so don't hesitate to utilise an instant messaging app or the email channel now and then to let your workers know that you have got more substance than a controlling internet robot.

Encourage inter-worker interaction
The chances are that if you apply the above steps, you will be well on your way to a strong relationship with your employees. However, though you may feel immersed in a remote team environment, it is important to realize that your employees" main point of contact is you and that they rely on you to put them in touch with the other remote workers. Working remotely can be a lonely undertaking, but fostering group communication - whether over an instant messaging app or even via email - can make the experience a little more social for all. To get everyone collaborating effectively on all creative outputs of a project (artwork, imagery, logos, video, audio, websites, social posts etc), an online page proofs tool like PageProof allows each worker a stake in the proofing process and ensures everyone's feedback is captured in one place.

Finally, think about doing something as a group that isn't remote
It may be a smart idea when managing remote workers - if it is feasible financially and logistically for the members of your cohort - to consider arranging a group conference or even a working holiday. Even if this only happens once every year, an event like this will allow both you and your employees to put faces to names, and will ultimately be beneficial to your staff turnover rates. Think specifically about organising a group meet right at the start of your management contract; it will help your workers form more personal attachments both horizontally (to each other) and vertically (to you).