Managing Remote Employees: 12 Tips to Help You Excel

April 24, 2024
Managing Remote Employees: 12 Tips to Help You Excel

According to this Forbes article, nearly 13% of full-time employees work completely from home, while another 28% work a hybrid model. About 16% of companies are working remotely and do not have a physical office. An overwhelming majority (98%) of employees would like to work remotely at least some of the time.

In this new world, managing remote employees requires a tailored set of skills. Remote employees may benefit from a management style that promotes productivity while fostering a positive and collaborative remote working environment. For this article, we compiled 12 essential tips to help you excel in managing remote teams.

Best practices for managing remote employees

According to the article linked above, Forbes estimates that by 2025, at least 32 million Americans will work remotely — a figure that makes up 22% of the country’s workforce. If you manage remote employees or expect that you might in the near future, these suggestions may help.

1. Hire the right people

Building a successful remote team begins with hiring individuals who embody discipline and accountability. Seek out candidates with a proven track record of remote work or those showcasing strong self-motivation and efficiency. You need new hires who can complete their work independently and allow you to focus on other areas of your business.

Try this. During interviews, inquire about candidates' experiences with remote work. Request examples of how they have managed their time effectively in a remote setting so you can gain insights into their ability to thrive in a decentralized work environment.

2. Set guidelines

Great remote managers establish clear expectations and guidelines for employees. For those employees who aren’t clocking in and out, like overtime exempt salaried employees, set working hours, project deadlines, and communication preferences from the outset, ensuring a cohesive workflow.

Try this. Develop a comprehensive onboarding process that includes a detailed handbook outlining company policies, expectations, and other remote work environment guidelines. Use this as a resource for discussing communication channels, working hours, and any other crucial issues with remote teams.

3. Check in, but not too much

While maintaining regular communication is essential, avoid micromanaging. Schedule periodic check-ins, whether through virtual one-on-one calls or team meetings, to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide necessary support.

Try this. Conduct frequent check-in meetings using video conferencing tools. Encourage team members to share updates on their projects and ask questions. This creates a collaborative environment while allowing you to monitor progress without stifling autonomy.

4. Communicate effectively

Effective communication is the linchpin of remote team success, so make every opportunity count. Because in-person communication isn't possible, or is infrequent, remote leaders need to use all the tools available to them for communication. Actively listen to your team members, no matter what format you are communicating in. Foster an environment where open communication is not only encouraged but also celebrated.

Try this. Use collaboration tools for daily communication and project updates. Establish a routine of sharing project goals, progress, and any roadblocks. This keeps everyone in the loop and minimizes misunderstandings. Messages using collaboration tools can make for quick communication that can also serve as a living document because your messages are both archived and searchable.

5. Show appreciation

Remote employees may miss out on traditional office celebrations and other in-person meetings and events that set the tone for company culture. This means managers must work hard to show appreciation in other ways. Recognize and reward employees’ hard work to boost morale and foster a sense of belonging. It's important to make sure recognition of remote employees occurs in team and company-wide settings. That helps remote employees feel secure that their contributions are known to employees and company leaders.

Try this. Implement a regular recognition program where outstanding achievements are acknowledged. This could include sending personalized thank-you notes, organizing virtual team-building events, or providing small tokens of appreciation.

6. Prioritize work-life balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance helps to prevent burnout among remote employees. Encourage your team to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life, including by creating a dedicated workspace and emphasizing the importance of taking breaks. Defining clear start and stop times for work is not just for non-exempt employees with a set schedule; encouraging the implementation of start and stop times for salaried exempt employees also lets those employees know when they should disconnect.

Try this. Implement a policy that encourages exempt employees to log off at a specific time each day. Encourage all employees to take breaks and definitely confirm that non-exempt employees take their legally mandated breaks. Additionally, provide resources for creating an ergonomic home office setup to enhance physical well-being, and consider providing reimbursements for any qualifying home office needs to ensure your team has what they need to work comfortably.

7. Foster emotional support

In a remote setting, addressing the emotional well-being of your team members is vital. They are missing out on the human connections that working on site enables. Actively listen to their concerns, be empathetic, and provide emotional support when needed. It's difficult for remote employees to build trust through video conferences and digital messages. When managing remotely, go out of your way to build trust and promote overall team morale.

Try this. Schedule regular one-on-one virtual coffee sessions to check in on the well-being of each team member. Create a safe space for open conversations about challenges they might be facing and offer support or resources as appropriate.

8. Leverage collaboration tools

Effective collaboration is the backbone of remote teamwork, and virtual work doesn’t have to mean your team members are working in silos. Invest in and leverage collaboration tools to streamline communication and project management. They can be game-changers for enabling seamless remote collaboration.

Try this. Integrate project management tools to facilitate task tracking and project coordination. Encourage team members to use these platforms for clear project updates, task assignments, and progress monitoring.

9. Encourage social interactions

Remote employees miss out on the casual interactions that happen in a physical office. If you’re gathering your remote team members only for formal meetings, you’re missing the mark. Foster a sense of camaraderie by creating opportunities for virtual social interactions, including virtual happy hours, team-building games, and casual collaboration channels.

Try this. Schedule a monthly virtual team-building activity, such as online trivia or a virtual escape room. Encourage team members to share non-work-related updates or interesting articles in a designated collaboration channel platform to promote informal conversations. Put a casual meeting on the calendar to serve as the virtual water cooler, where team members can just chat about what’s happening around them.

10. Factor in time zones

If your remote team spans different time zones, adapt your management style to accommodate varied working hours. Clearly communicate expectations regarding availability and establish protocols for asynchronous communication to ensure everyone feels included.

Try this. Implement a shared calendar where team members can indicate their working hours and availability. Schedule meetings at times that accommodate the majority of the team and record important meetings for those who can't attend live. Regularly revisit and adjust these protocols as needed.

11. Embrace positive feedback

In a remote setting, positive feedback is a powerful tool for motivation and employee engagement. Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, no matter how small, to foster a positive remote environment and boost team morale.

Try this. Implement a regular feedback session where team members can share their accomplishments and receive positive reinforcement. This can be done in team meetings, through virtual recognition platforms, or via personalized messages.

12. Facilitate training

Continuous learning is essential for professional development, even in a remote work environment. Provide opportunities for ongoing training and skill development to keep your team up to date with industry trends and advancements.

Try this. Schedule regular virtual training sessions or webinars on relevant topics. Encourage team members to participate in online courses or workshops and support them in acquiring new skills that contribute to their personal and professional growth.

Managing Remote Employees

TriNet's services include many ways to help support you and your remote employees. With our comprehensive HR software, self-service tools, and mobile app, it’s easy for you and your employees to view TriNet-sponsored benefits, pay information and update benefits information with life status change events such as getting married or having a child.

What's more, our HR professionals and consultants are seasoned professionals, so when you or your employee call for support or services, you’ll connect with a team of HR experts who can help with HR concerns. TriNet experts also provides HR guidance to help businesses such as best practices on remote work policy.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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