While most remote employees are very much responsible, remote work sometimes attracts people who are searching for more relaxed professional environments for the wrong reasons and that presents unique challenges.
Although many workers like the concept of working from home, that does not mean every employee is well-suited for a remote job. Managers need to make careful decisions on who to hire based on candidates’ personalities and prior experience.
Applicants who are proactive and have held remote roles may be more desirable because they are used to this particular way of working and more likely to be self-sufficient in their tasks.
Be sure to ask key questions during the hiring process such as what technology they own and intend to use. With this information, you can plan on adapting their setup to your company’s needs or ensuring they have the necessary devices or software.
To make work efficient, managers need to teach their teams key responsibilities. Here are some practical ways to do that.
Instill A Sense of Belonging
One way to encourage employees to always do their best is to instill a sense of belonging. This is essential for remote teams because employees work in isolation and it can be much more difficult to help everyone feel a part of a cohesive unit.
Managers of remote teams can point out who is good at what and make ways for a team to work well together. But perhaps the most important thing, is to remember to tell people when they are doing a good job. Congratulate remote employees on accomplishments. When employees sense they are appreciated, they take greater pride and responsibility in their work.
Teach Technological Responsibility
Remote workers’ technology is critical to the quality of their work and ability to communicate timely with the rest of the team. Because of this, it’s necessary to make sure remote employees are being responsible for the technology they use for work. People working remotely depend on a cloud-based collaboration and file sharing.
This can be a significant issue. Remote employees often use their own devices, which may not be as secure as an employer would like. Because they are not on-site, remote employees need to troubleshoot their own tech issues too, which can be frustrating and increase downtime.
Employers can help reduce time wasted in this field.
For example, you can provide education on computer knowledge and make it a part of the employee manual. Direct remote employees to helpful troubleshooting resources depending on the technology they are using and the issues they are having.
Another way is to bring in a remote IT support that manages your networks, sets up new employees in the system and provides them professional troubleshooting.
Setting security standards, educating employees on safe browsing and instructing them to have separate devices for work are often effective policies.
Focus on Time Management
Time management can be one of the biggest challenges for remote workers, even more so than for on-site teams. Although there are many advantages to working from home for both employees and employers, there are some significant downsides.
Perhaps the biggest challenges are potential distractions and greater difficulty managing time. Managers should encourage remote employees to set up dedicated home offices. They can offer resources to their remote employees for how to set up office hours at home, talk to family members and enforce their established boundaries.
You should also offer access to resources on time management for remote professionals. These resources can come in many forms, including webinars, books, helpful blogs and more.
Keep Up with What They Are Doing
Two good questions to ask your remote team members each day are “what did you get done today” and “what does your to-do list look like.” While it may be counter-intuitive to be looking over shoulders too much, especially with remote workers, it’s necessary to keep tabs on what your employees are doing and what they hope to work on next.
This can give you a better idea of their work ethic and encourages them to be more responsible when they are aware someone is checking in on them. It also opens the door for you to offer help or guidance to employees who seem to need it.
Lead, Don’t Manage
Managing your employees does not foster the same level of responsibility that leading them does. This is key to being a good manager of traditional teams but is even more important as a leader of a remote team.
Telling people what to do is managing while living your values and influencing your team is leading. You teach remote teams to have more responsibility for their behaviors and habits when you shift much of the ownership onto them.
By leading instead of managing, you can create a proactive remote team that tells you when they need help, comes up with their own ideas and proves a more valuable asset to the organization.
Share Your Vision
While employees need and enjoy their paycheck, most of them prefer to feel as though their work has some kind of meaning. It is up to managers to instill this sense by considering why this work matters and then passing it onto their teams.
Be genuine – your employees will notice if you are stretching the truth. By sharing the company’s vision with your remote team, you not only motivate them to be better employees and take greater responsibility in their work but also help cement the company’s brand identity in your own mind.
Remote teams need to be a little more self-sufficient and responsible than traditional teams.
This is just the reality of working mostly by oneself in an individual space off-site. Managers can adopt several approaches, including the ones outlined above, to train remote teams to have stronger responsibility.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being a self-employed telecommuter, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.