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10 Tips for Managing a Remote WorkForce

It is often hard to fathom that the workforce environment that exists today came mostly as a result of a worldwide pandemic. However, remote workers have grown exponentially over the last few years for many businesses.

For managers, this can pose additional challenges that they may or may not be aware of when taking on the task of managing a remote workforce. Doing so requires a different approach than if your subordinates were working in the traditional sense for many reasons.

Wondering what the best tips are for managing a remote workforce? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Remote Workforce?

While the idea of a remote workforce was not a brand new idea when the pandemic hit, it certainly took flight during this time. This is because many businesses had to pivot quickly in light of the shutdown of in-person work.

Even today, a few years past the pandemic and worldwide shut down, the remote workforce remains intact. This is because many individuals and businesses alike discovered the advantages of doing remote work.

For businesses, a remote workforce means not having the additional overhead of having to support in-person employees. Because of this, they have been able to save quite a bit of money for the company overall.

For individuals, a remote working environment means that they have the flexibility to work from home and save money and time not having to commute. In addition, this type of remote work satisfies the need of introverts to work from home in an environment conducive to what they need.

The bottom line is that a remote workforce allows employees to work from home while still getting the work they are assigned to do. This also means that management, who also probably work from home, has additional challenges to contend with.

How is a Remote Workforce Different From a Traditional Workforce?

Work-life balance has been a point of contention between businesses and employees for many reasons. Whether individuals work remotely or in the traditional sense, finding the right balance can be a challenge.

When working traditionally, most employers expect individuals to get their work done promptly, which sometimes means even if they have to work after hours. This can disrupt the work-life balance.

As a remote worker, while the same thing can be true, it is often more on the side of the employer who ends up putting more time in than expected. This is often due to working various hours, which can translate into working longer hours than they would if they were working in person.

Other ways remote work is different than traditional work has to do with the way work is done regularly. This typically includes working different hours, taking lunch breaks less often, and even working when ill.

Two women work remotely at a table.
Remote workers are far more likely to work while ill than those who go into the office.

Why is Remote Work an Important Aspect of the Workforce Landscape?

Even though many companies have embraced the culture of having at least some of their workforce working remotely, there are still others who disagree with the practice. These companies tend to believe that it is a sure sign of the demise of the company.

One of the most important aspects of a business is the culture that surrounds it. Oftentimes this culture is positive and other times it is negative many times due to the way business owners and managers view the work itself.

Here are a few reasons why remote work is an important part of the workforce landscape:

  • Remote work gives employees more flexibility 
  • It saves businesses from some overhead costs of more employees in the office
  • Allows a better work-life balance for most employees
  • Creates an incentive for candidates to want to work for the company
  • Allows businesses to hire qualified employees from around the world that may fit better for the position they have

While these are only a few reasons that remote work is important in the workforce, they allow business owners to take a second look at offering remote work.

10 Tips for Managing a Remote WorkForce

With the increase of remote workers over the last several years, there has been an even more demand to manage them differently. This is because the needs are different for a remote workforce than for traditional workers.

Because of this, there is a greater need for managers to learn different skills when it comes to managing remote crews. Since the onset of this phenomenon, many businesses have learned some best practices and are willing to share them with others.

Want to know some of the best tips for managing a remote workforce? Read on to find out.

1. Develop Expectations and Norms from the Beginning

Having a remote workforce in your company can be a great way to expand your business beyond the city limits of your current location. This is because you can attract talent from areas around the world. 

Because of the diverse nature of the remote workforce, you may be hiring, there is an increased need to develop expectations and norms from the beginning. As you bring on more and more remote employees, there needs to be a sense of routine and procedures.

Many managers focus on creating these norms when the working environment is traditional, however, it is the one thing that tends to be forgotten when remote work is introduced. Because of this, many remote employees feel as though they do not have any support.

2. Organization and Flexibility are Key

As a manager of a remote workforce, the need to be organized is even more necessary since you will need to be ready for anything. In addition, managers need to be flexible with their thinking that employees will need to work the same traditional hours.

Organization as a manager is always an important trait to have and is even more necessary in the remote workforce. This is because you do not have the same opportunities to run to your office to grab that one report and such when you are in a Zoom meeting.

Additionally, remote workers do not have to work the same hours as they would traditionally. Whether they choose to work in the morning or afternoon should not matter and managers need to develop the flexibility to allow it.

3. Schedule Regular Check-In Meetings

Keep in mind that remote workers, while they enjoy flexibility, often feel as though they are alone in the world of work. This is typical because they go for days on end without hearing from management or other employees.

When managing a remote workforce, it is important to establish a schedule of check-in meetings so that employees know they are valued. It is also important that these check-in meetings are operated by letting employees know that you want to know what you can do for them.

During these meetings, employees need to know that you want to help in any way possible and that you appreciate their hard work. When you do this, it helps remote workers know that they are not alone and have the support they need.

4. Make Meetings Short

Instead of having the traditional hour-long meetings several times per week, you must schedule shorter meetings throughout the week. This will show your remote that you value their time and want to support the work-life balance.

Many remote managers see the value in developing short meetings that get to the point of things quickly. These meetings can be 15 minutes long and still be sufficient to cover necessary information.

One idea is to have a daily check-in meeting which is scheduled at the beginning of the work day just to get everyone up to speed on what is happening for the day. This allows time for information to be shared and ask if anyone needs anything so everyone can get on with their day.

5. Use a Variety of Technology

If the pandemic provided anything positive to the world, it was the onslaught of technological advances. These advances have enabled people to work remotely even more efficiently than ever before.

With the wide variety of technology that is available, managers can use this to their advantage when working with a remote workforce. From meeting software to apps that help keep the teams connected and on track, there is quite a bit of technology that can be used.

Managers who work with a remote workforce should use this technology to help better manage their teams. Employees will feel much more comfortable knowing that they have all the tools they need to complete their work.

6. Stay in Constant Communication

Most managers know that communication is one of the most important components of running a successful business. When communication is open and concise, both managers and employees alike work much more efficiently.

When you are managing a remote workforce, it is even more important that communication stays at the forefront of your mind. This is because remote work brings on the added challenge of not being able to pop into someone’s office when you have a question.

Using various means of communication can help both you and your remote team get the answers they need promptly. This will help to make the relationship and business run much smoother.

7. Trust Your Remote Team

Just as you would anyone you hire in a traditional business setting, you have to trust that remote employees will do the work they are tasked with. In most cases, remote employees tend to work harder since they do not have added distractions when working in person.

If you let your employees know that they are trusted to get the work done, they are far more likely to be productive. Most people tend to feel a certain loyalty to a manager who shows that they have faith in their abilities and work ethic.

To run a remote workforce successfully, you will need to develop a level of trust for all members of your team. Doing this will allow you to worry less about the day-to-day operations and focus on the growth your team is producing.

8. Ask for Feedback

The best kind of managers are ones who are not afraid to show their vulnerability when it comes to doing their job. This is why some of the best ones out there are constantly soliciting feedback from their teams.

This is no different in the remote work environment since there is even more urgency for managers to be doing what is needed to support their team. Just because you think things are going well, you will not know for sure unless you ask your employees.

One of the best ways you can ensure that you are doing what is needed is to ask your team for feedback. You can even set up an open communication setting where their feedback is valued at all times.

9. Be Present and Available

Many managers who are in traditional work environments often have an “open-door” policy that tells employees that they are always available to them. When you are managing a remote workforce, however, it can be more difficult to emphasize this policy.

If you have the technology in place that allows for various ways to communicate with your team, then you should consider adopting a method of “open-door” policy. This can be done in a variety of ways if you are willing to put forth the effort to make it happen.

10. Develop a Method of Collaboration

While most people who work remotely would much rather work by themselves, in some cases, there may be a need to collaborate with a team. Working remotely can be more difficult than if you were in the same building.

Luckily, technology exists that allows you to not only meet with the whole team but also provides a way for you to collaborate with others. To successfully manage your remote workforce, you will need to do some research to find software that allows your team to collaborate on projects.

A computer screen with a zoom meeting is blurred out.
While meetings are important in remote work, it’s best to keep them short. 

How Has Remote Work Changed Over the Years?

Keep in mind that as you are setting up to manage a remote workforce that there are many considerations to think about. Since the pandemic, there have been many advances not just in technology but also in the way remote work has been done.

When you think about the realities of remote work, you have to consider what the data tells you about the past several years. Knowing certain trends and what people who work remotely are saying, you can develop a team that is far better than you could dream of.

Ready to Manage a Remote Workforce?

Knowing all of the tips and tricks for managing a remote workforce can help you to do a better job in the long run. Other things you should consider include knowing what it is like to work remotely and helping to teach your team how to stay productive along the way.

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