Challenges Leaders Face When Managing Remote Employees
Challenges managing remote employees are easily mitigated if remote employees and their managers are provided the proper tools.
Although there may be some initial challenges managing remote employees they are well worth the benefit that a remote workforce provides your business.
Benefits of Remote Work
Case studies have shown that working remotely provides many benefits to businesses as well as their employees. In fact, 9 out of 10 employees who work remotely report that they plan to continue doing so until they retire.
Benefits of remote work include-
1. Work life balance- When employees are given the opportunity to work remotely they are better able to cultivate a healthy work life balance. While some employees work better during the traditional 9-5 hours, another employee may get creative and produce your next innovative product in the middle of the night.
People work differently, and remote work provides the opportunity for employees to work when they feel the most productive. Remember, employees need a healthy work life balance in order to get work done and further boost business productivity.
Remote work also decreases absenteeism while increasing employee morale. For example, if a traditional office employee has a child care obligation or doctor's visit, they would have to commute back and forth from the office or call out of work completely. To overcome challenges with scheduling, a remote worker can make up missed hours on their own time and avoid repetitive and unnecessary commutes.
2. Saving money- Remote workers save their company an average of $2,000 in office space rent per employee per year. Remote employees also save money, spending much less on gas, car expenses, and professional attire.
3. Top talent recruitment- With so many successful businesses operating completely remotely, top talent employees are much less likely to settle for unnecessary commutes and traditional work hours. In fact, 35% of employees report that they would switch jobs in order to work remotely.
Remote work also limits the recruitment barriers of different time zones and geographical locations. A remote team can incorporate the right people for a role regardless of what time zones they live in and work within. Remote teams are not limited by geographical distance and therefore are afforded a more diverse employee candidate pool than a traditional office is.
Remote working capabilities are a great way to strengthen company culture by retaining top talent employees and creating brand ambassadors all over the world. Even small business owners can access global talent and grow their company by providing remote work opportunities.
Challenges Managing Remote Employees and How to Solve Them
Although there are clearly massive benefits to remote work there are challenges in managing remote employees to consider. Main challenges include-
1. Communication- With so much communication dependant on body language cues many are rightfully concerned with challenges managing communications. Thankfully there are many technologically advanced options for virtual team collaboration and communication including-
- Instant messaging
- Virtual team meeting platforms
- Check ins via video
- Google hangouts
- Project management software programs
- Social media platforms
- Video conference programs
2. Company culture- Fostering a healthy company culture with remote teams can be intimidating. However, social media can help keep employees connected and team building activities like virtual movie nights can substitute for in-person interactions.
Managing remote employees requires that upper level executives get creative, such as holding a virtual open door policy. Make sure to clearly outline what time managers will be available at their home office and encourage remote team members to ask questions just as they would in a traditional office space.
Establish at least a yearly opportunity for remote teams to come together and meet in person. Whether this meeting occurs formally in an office space or is an opportunity for team members to bond at an exotic location, team leaders will be provided the opportunity to meet their team members and get to know them better.
3. Trust building- Managing remote teams requires a lot of trust which may be difficult for micromanaging and hyper surveillance prone managers. However, case studies have shown time and time again that remote employees are much more productive than their traditional office worker counterparts.
A great way to foster trust while making team members feel accountable relies on making sure that employees are still provided individual check ins and official reviews. Not only will this help remote workers feel connected to their management staff, but managers who are not yet acclimated to remote work culture can feel more at ease.
Although the challenges managing remote employees may feel intimidating, remote working provides enough benefits to both your company and its employees to make the challenges well worth overcoming.