In 2019, studies showed that 74% of U.S. workers said they would be willing to quit their jobs for a remote one. That was before the crisis, and now, that number has increased. According to a survey done by FlexJobs in July and August 2021: 58% were more eager to adjust their schedule to a full-time remote office, while 39% said they were keen on acquiring a hybrid model. That makes 97% of employees more prone to take on remote work. From the willingness to reconcile private life and career to lockdowns, remote work has become more and more requested.
In this article, we will begin by understanding the pros and cons of what it takes to manage remote employees. Also, let's keep in mind that not all employees succeed at teleworking, and you'll need to understand how to identify good remote team members and help them become better.
In addition, we’ll drop some advice concerning the Covid crisis and becoming aware of issues in terms of remote team management.
For those who don't have time to read the whole article, check out our five tips in a complete guide for successfully managing a team at the end of this article.
Remote workforce, or teleworking ameliorates autonomy. Employees have to manage their schedules and organize their days to achieve their tasks at the right time. Most of the time, this is pretty pleasant as employees are able to save up money on public transport, save energy, and elevate their skills by finding solutions by themselves.
Also, a remote environment increases productivity: employees' and companies.’ Furthermore, autonomy and self-management represent the possibility of delegating more tasks to employees, which is a consequent asset for managers. As a result, they can spend time and energy more productively for the company.
A French investigation conducted by the General Direction of companies revealed that 85% of companies that responded consider that teleworking increases productivity.
We can explain this data by the fact that teleworking allows:
- increase in productivity of 5% to 10%
- money-saving up to 30% of real estate
- a more significant motivation felt by employees
- reduced absenteeism (decrease of 20%)
- a turnover drop
- a more prominent employee's flexibility
- a better way of life for employees
As we know, remote team members don't have to go to the office, and it allows employees to conciliate private and professional lives. Moreover, by implementing remote culture in a company, CEOs can save up money such as: premises, water, electricity, and daily expenses are less expensive, reflected in salaries or investments.
In addition, hiring remote workers opens the door to different types of working profiles: origins, countries, different time zones, etc – allowing a more diverse team! A remote workforce increases the accessibility of the company and encourages more inclusivity (for people who cannot move quickly from home to an office, for example).
Even if you might think leading remote teams is the ‘new performance power’ for companies, it also comes with some challenges. Teleworking might create a gap between employees and managers producing a lack of oversight. Managers might have difficulties measuring productivity, subsequently, causing stress, anxiety, and bad performance. With this comes the loss of authority.
But how are managers able to oversee if employees are not present ?
Indeed, working at home, with all the comfort we know, can cause distractions. Of course, this depends on the employees' willingness and focus.
Managing a remote team is complicated if the company's activity needs physical presence. For example, it could be counterproductive to work remotely for a painting company. Thankfully, for most companies, it's more of an advantage than a disadvantage. Development teams and digital teams are those which can ultimately benefit from remote working.
Other cons of managing remote employees could be the loss of control over mental health. For those who don't like to work remotely, it appears difficult to escape from loneliness and from the feeling of not successfully working alone. FOMO as many of you might know is the fear of missing out, which also increases when employees work from home and wish they were physically and present at a certain place.
Distance may also cause issues related to the role and responsibilities of each team member. For example, it's easier to hide from responsibilities, misunderstandings may arise, accountability could be tricky, or discussing promotions could be postponed.
As a manager, how can you make an effective choice between remote and face-to-face work?
If one of your fears is the loss of authority, then perhaps you should implement an agile organization to empower employees, share skills, and delegate some missions. Make sure to use a good collaboration tool: a sharing sheet can be sufficient, but nowadays, self-management softwares exists to implement an agile self-organization.
To make sure employees and team members feel comfortable, you can encourage them to communicate, whether it’s via chat, meetings, calls – but also recruiting coaches to bring agility to your company could be beneficial, too.
Trust, respect, and a sense of organization are the best soft skills to manage a team remotely. Managers can encounter difficulties letting employees manage data while working at a distance, also they might feel stressed out concerning tasks' efficiency because It's impossible to watch employees working in real-time.
If it's challenging to trust your employees, you need to take a step back and consider remote team management as an investment. (I dare you to find a non-risky investment!) The risk here would only be human and not financial – we have seen worse! It's essential to prioritize respect to ensure that the organization offers a healthy working environment for you and your team members.
Working at home doesn't mean being ready to work at any time. Meetings must be regular but not too plentiful or useless and must happen during working hours. At the same time, employees must be available just like at the office rather than disappearing behind a screen. Encourage every remote team member to turn on their camera during meetings as it contributes to maintaining company culture.
A great method to implement in your organization to work seamlessly within your team remotely is by using a self-organization platform. First, it's an excellent way to make sure employees do their tasks and to have a global vision of what's left to be done. Second, it allows employees to organize themselves and to focus on goals.
To successfully manage a remote team does not exclude a lousy experience. Indeed, some employees don't have any skills at all to telework efficiently. So, it's up to managers to find qualities in their workers to ensure they can let them work alone, far from the office. But how do we find good remote employees? How can we test them to maximize productivity?
Some skills are vital to be a good remote employee. No surprise here, a remote worker has to be autonomous and rigorous to maximize their work's efficiency by doing things and making new decisions by themselves.
Motivation is also important, considering it's easier to achieve a task when distractions are lower than passion itself. Moreover, motivation allows us to find solutions when problems arise because we feel concerned by a certain situation. Knowing how to manage our time and how to organize our daily agenda is vital to become a good remote worker.
However, one last important and unmissable thing to achieve a great remote environment is: technology and self-management. It's essential to make sure remote employees know how to participate quickly during virtual meetings and publish their progress in their corporate social network. It allows everyone to keep up with company culture, a dynamic team, an oversight, and most importantly – productivity.
Despite all this, it's recurrent to see employees who don't possess these skills while they are obliged to telework. The solution here is to train them to maximize their efficiency.
Each manager has to be as present as possible, even virtually, and modify objectives to clarify employees' missions. In the beginning, we recommend that managers plan recurring meetings to find all the misunderstandings and points team members might have. It is the first step for implementing self-management. Little by little, employees will be able to manage themselves and resolve problems on their own.
If employees don't know how to work remotely, the right tools are even more important. They allow employees to brainstorm and find ideas in someone else’s work. That is why OKRs' method is popular during these trial times. If you find a good tool for each employee, your company will perform and if you find a remote leader who feels comfortable with a project management tool, feel free to let them become the team leader.
To make sure this decision is efficient and suitable for the entire team, you can organize individual video calls. Remember, communication is the key for an excellent remote collaboration. Talkspirit is an example of an effective communication tool in which you can maintain a communication channel.
Many well-known methods seem to be a good starting point to implement a culture of self-reliance. Scrum and Kanban methods can bring elements of reflection to re-organize the way of working. The best way to train employees to work in a remote environment is to take advice from professionals. SelfOrg Consulting is an example of a company that aims to help organizations to implement self-management.
Now your employees are good remote workers, and it's up to you to keep this situation evolving in a good way. It would be best if you encouraged effective communication in your company to keep the fluidity between employees.
Giving meaning to all the missions is an excellent element to avoid distractions and to stimulate motivation. Every employee should be included in the company's results and updates to generate a feeling of success in real-time. It's imperative to acknowledge workers when they have successfully achieved a task.
A unique challenge completed can develop motivation for several days. Managers’ behavior is the connection point between employees and the company. That is why they have to reflect confidence, availability, and kindness to inspire employees to do the same.
Do you want feedback from your workers? Please give them yours. Do you want to profit? Motivate them with a promotion if they deserve it. Do you feel the essence of your company disappearing? Organize a virtual cocktail party!
The secret is to transform the virtual company into a second home for workers, where they feel good, listened and considered.
As we want you to feel comfortable with remote management, we need to consider the current ecosystem. We are living through a global crisis. Rules are the same as those we just learned, except a manager must show more empathy and understanding. Remember that employees didn't accept to work remotely – they had to. That is why they may feel scared, anxious, and disoriented.
In a particular time like this one, it's important to accept we don't have all the answers and that some experts can lead the situation. A psychological unit is good insurance to be sure all employees feel good. A complete and innovative software can represent time and energy-saving if it allows all employees to have what they need to work efficiently, reassuringly and in a motivating environment. Holaspirit is a software that enables self-management organization in your company with all the necessary tools.
Above all, managers have to be optimistic in times like these. But, as we said, they are the reflection of what some employees can turn to at times. The world is changing and how we work is evolving. Opportunities are flourishing and new ways to team-collaborate is evolving, too. Technology for instance is helping us out during these difficult times, it has given us the possibility for workers and managers to implement a healthier and more virtuous way of working.
We now understand why Sociocracy, Holacracy, scrum, and kanban methods of working are becoming more and more popular and requested. It's up to you, workers, managers, dreamers, to find sense in your tasks and to achieve agility and organization within your companies.
- Choose autonomous and rigorous workers to make sure they work efficiently, and they can make bolder decisions by themselves.
- Trigger motivation for your employees to facilitate their tasks' achievement and give them passion in their role.
- Democratize daily routines by planning a regular meeting and implementing OKRs or other management tools to set daily goals. First, you need to find a good tool depending on your employees' profiles.
- Prepare them to use technology to create good communication between employees, as this represents the productivity's fuel during a virtual working period.
- The organization must implement a successful remote management strategy because it allows employees to have a global vision of what's left to be done.
- If your employees have difficulties communicating, accustom them to use a corporate social network. If your employees don't know how to organize their daily agenda, show them what a good management software looks like.
- Be aware of what is done in the working culture. Many well-known methods seem to be a good starting point to implement a culture of self-reliance. Scrum and Kanban methods can bring elements of reflection to re-organize the way of working.
Here is a list of some of the best tools from Holaspirit to maximize productivity and gain efficiency amongst your team.
1. Tactical Meetings: align your day-to-day with your team and set off for a great start.
2. OKRs: a powerful tool to align your organization’s goals with those with the team. Align and focus for bolder results.
3. Track your projects: track your process and document them for clarity and transparency amongst your team members.
4.Checklists: gain visibility over recurring actions if they are being done properly.
- Respect, trust, encourage and congratulate. Remote employees are not machines; their productivity depends on how they feel in the company. Include every employee in the company's results and updates to generate a feeling of success in real-time.
- Inspire employees by reflecting good vibes. Managers’ behavior is the connection point between employees and the company.
Do you want feedback from your workers? Give them yours. Do you want to profit? Motivate them with a promotion if they deserve it.
The secret is to transform the virtual company into a second home for workers to feel good, listened to, and considered.
Keep in mind that employees didn't accept to work remotely– they had to. That is why they might feel scared, anxious, and disoriented. In particular times like this one, it's important to accept we don't have all the answers and that some experts can lead the situation.
- A psychological unit is good insurance to be sure all employees feel good.
- A complete and innovative software can represent time and energy-saving if it allows all employees to have what they need to work quickly and in a reassuring and motivating environment.
Above all, managers must stay optimistic during trial periods like these. But, as we said, they are the reflection of what some employees can refer themselves to.
New technology represents the possibility for workers and managers to implement a healthier and more virtuous way of working.