We recognize a phase when we see one, (Wordle, we’re looking at you) and so you can trust us when we say, remote employee management is here to stay.
There are many types of remote work, from leveraging the Gig economy, to launching a remote-first strategy and sending employees home with company laptops.
Remote workforce management can be a challenge for all of these types of employees, especially if they are dispersed globally. So if you’re looking for some hot tips on how to manage your workers outside the office, you’re in the right place.
Here are 5 tips that will have you nailing a for-sale sign to the office door, and Googling “ergonomic desk chairs for your home office” in no time.
#1 Expand your recruitment strategy
If companies eliminate geographic location as a requirement, their chances of hiring the best person for the job significantly increases. After all, it’s a numbers game.
The problem is that if you have an office and you start hiring remote workers, it can leave new remote hires on the outside looking in. There’s already a group of experienced full-time employees that know each other well, share the same time zone and mostly share the same culture, too.
It can be helpful to try to hire several remote employees from the same time zone at first, especially, if your workforce is still heavily weighted towards an HQ office model. Over time you can remove the geo limitations altogether.
You should also mention to the candidate during the early stages of the hiring process that most of your workforce share the same location and discuss the implications so that they are coming in with their eyes open.
#2 Onboarding is more important than ever
When employees work remotely, you might think onboarding becomes less important. After all, new remote hires won’t need an explanation on where they can keep their snacks. While we wouldn’t recommend mandating a nut-free zone in at-home kitchens, remote onboarding needs its own clear strategy.
Consider technical complexities like how employees will remain compliant with corporate policies while using personal devices or home networks.
You should also pay close attention to cultural engagement, which can be a lot harder when employees work remotely. How will you encourage remote workers to foster personal connections? While they will naturally meet teammates and colleagues over time? Many companies add roundtables and 1:1 sessions with colleagues and senior members to the onboarding process. Think of it as substituting elevator rides and water cooler chat.
#3 Create clear remote working policies
Since COVID-19, a lot of businesses have just… gone with the flow. At first, governments enforced working from home. Then, most advised only those who needed to be at their desks to head back to the office. Now…? Well, it probably depends on where you live. As a result, some businesses have seriously fuzzy expectations in place around employee behavior when working remotely. People need clarity, so remote workforce policies are your new best friend.
How many days do you expect employees to be in the office, if at all? What hours should they be available for emails and work calls? Are you offering a home office stipend, or transferring travel allowances elsewhere? And what about that awesome free espresso cart in the office lobby – can remote employees get the equivalent in Starbucks vouchers?
#4 Forge a cohesive working culture
Keeping a strong and cohesive culture was hard enough pre-remote-work norms – but when your team is distributed around the world, culture needs even more attention.
If people aren’t heading out of the office for a drink after work, or chatting to one another while they wait for their Uber, this can have a direct impact on their professional work, too. Less communication means less ability to brainstorm, think creatively, and provide clear and constructive feedback without fear.
Look for ways to encourage culture and relationships without those face to face interactions. This could be anything from enforcing camera-on Zoom meetings, setting up “just for fun” Slack channels, or virtual happy hours where you introduce members of staff who might not otherwise meet.
#5 Don’t forget your freelancers
Almost all companies, whether corporates or mom-and-pop shops, leverage freelance talent to get things done. The problem is that most companies focus solely on their employees when adjusting their processes to remote work.
If anything, remote work usually reduces the differences between full-time employees and freelancers and therefore makes it even easier for teams to leverage more freelance talent and close their skills gap. After all, if your whole team is working in a distributed way, there’s no difference between Bob from Accounting who now works from home full-time, and Carrie the freelance UX designer. (Well, except for Bob’s serious math skills.)