5 Effective Strategies for Managing Remote Employees

March 26, 2024

Before the world was turned upside down by the pandemic, a measly 6% of the workforce was clocking in remotely. Fast forward to today, and that number has more than doubled, with 13.7% of employees working from home and 24.7% working a hybrid schedule.

Looking to the future, a whopping 36.2 million Americans are expected to be punching in from their living rooms, kitchens, and, for the lucky few, actual home offices by 2025. That’s an 87% leap from the good ol’ pre-pandemic days. Tech giants can call employees back to the office all they want, but they’re clearly not stopping the remote work train any time soon.

Regardless of whether you currently manage a remote team, it’s a scenario you might find yourself in sooner than you think. If managing remote employees is a mere afterthought for your organization, you’re rolling out the red carpet for your competitors to swoop in and snatch up your best talent—embarrassing!

The good news is, CRB operates entirely from the cloud and has mastered the art of remote workforce management. Read on for our top five tips to keep your employees productive and engaged, no matter where they plug in their laptops.

5 Effective Strategies for Managing Remote Employees

1. Establish Communication Channels

Getting your remote communication right is all about setting up the digital equivalent of open office doors. Choosing tools like Slack for quick chats and Zoom for face-to-face meetings is step one. They’re the heavy hitters in the remote world for a reason, helping teams stay on the same page and feel connected, no matter the distance.

But it’s not just about having the right apps—it’s how you use them. Regular check-ins are key. Beyond project updates, consistent meetings keep everyone in the loop and feeling part of the team. Think of them like the daily catchups you might otherwise have by the office coffee machine or the weekly team lunch.

So, by picking the right tools and making sure you’re chatting regularly, you’ll keep projects on track and employees engaged—a win-win!

2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals

You can better keep your remote team on track by mapping out exactly what needs to be done, when, and to what standard when they log on for the day. When you lay out measurable goals, everyone knows where the finish line is and what it takes to cross it. Project management tools like Teamwork and Asana are essential for tracking time, monitoring deliverable status, and workload planning.

Once you’ve figured out the what, create standards for the when and how. Setting clear guidelines for work hours and availability is crucial in a remote setup. It’s like agreeing on office hours, even though there’s no office. This helps everyone know when they can reach out to colleagues and when others will be online.

For example, you might consider making 10AM to 3PM mandatory online hours, with the rest of the day being flex time. Outside of these hours, employees are free to go to doctor’s appointments, pick kids up from school, or simply grab their favorite breakfast before they start their workday (assuming they complete all their daily tasks, of course). A structure like this is vital for remote teams to function efficiently, preventing burnout and ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

3. Foster a Strong Team Culture

Creating a vibrant team culture doesn’t need an office. Start with virtual team-building activities; think online escape rooms or trivia nights. These social sessions connect remote workers across the digital divide.

CRB, for instance, leverages a variety of virtual team-building activities designed to mimic the camaraderie and spontaneous interactions that occur naturally in an office setting. We make sure to recognize personal milestones like work anniversaries and birthdays, celebrating our employees as much as we can. Sometimes, team members will simply join a Zoom call just to work individually, together.

Whenever possible, it’s crucial to meet face-to-face as well. At CRB, we host a company retreat for our internal employees once a year. The impact of these retreats extends far beyond the event itself, translating into a more cohesive, motivated, and engaged team. Our team members return to their remote work environments with a renewed sense of connection to their colleagues and CRB’s mission, driven by the shared memories and experiences. Cultivating this sense of belonging ensures everyone feels like part of the squad, even if their nearest colleague is hundreds of miles away.

4. Ensure Access to Necessary Resources

Nothing kills productivity like a slow laptop or glitchy software. Companies leading the charge in remote work understand the investment in their team’s home setup pays dividends in productivity and job satisfaction. Home office stipends or reimbursements can also show your team that you’re serious about supporting their remote work setup.

Moreover, access to necessary software and digital tools is equally critical. Salesforce, renowned for its cloud-based solutions, equips its remote workforce with state-of-the-art CRM tools, collaboration software, and access to cloud storage, enabling seamless teamwork and client management.

However, it’s not just about the physical and digital tools; support systems play a crucial role as well. Remote employees might encounter unique challenges, from troubleshooting IT issues to needing advice on setting up an ergonomic workspace. Even if you don’t have a dedicated remote IT support team, there are plenty of resources out there—like this one from Google—that offer advice on creating an optimal home office setup. Additionally, initiatives like virtual office hours with HR and tech support give remote employees a direct line to the assistance they need, ensuring they feel supported and valued.

5. Prioritize Mental Health and Wellbeing

Remote work, despite its benefits, can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and burnout. Addressing these challenges is essential for maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. Many leading companies are adopting holistic wellness programs that go beyond traditional health benefits.

For example, Asana has integrated mindfulness practices into its company culture, offering free therapy through Modern Health, meditation and yoga sessions, and even recipes and nutrition advice to help employees reduce stress and improve focus.

Similarly, CRB provides our employees with wellness benefits like gym memberships and lifestyle programs, tools, and apps. These perks not only help in alleviating the stress and anxiety that can come with remote work, but also demonstrate our commitment to our employees’ overall health.

Finally, encouraging regular breaks and promoting a healthy work-life balance are critical in preventing burnout. Slack, for example, has implemented no-meeting Fridays, allowing employees to have a day free of internal meetings, focusing on deep work or catching up on tasks. Such policies signal to employees that their time is highly valued, and that rest is just as important as productivity.

Help Your Remote Team Reach Their Full Potential

Remote teams have incredible potential to be just as—if not more—productive, creative, and innovative as their in-office counterparts. But without the right management approach, their talents could walk out the virtual door.

Remote work is the future, and you don’t want to be left behind. If you’re not fully remote yet or still debating the concept entirely, there’s good news. Your organization doesn’t need a massive, expensive overhaul. Building a fantastic remote work environment is all about changing your mindset and keeping your team connected.

Sure, scheduling video calls, striking up casual chats, and holding regular check-ins might feel awkward at first. But trust us, with a little effort, your team will be collaborating like clockwork in no time. And if you need a partner in building your remote dream team, you know who to call.

CRB offers a wide range of workforce management services that empower remote teams to reach their full potential. Connect with us today to learn more.

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