5 Ways to Create Productivity and Success in Your Remote Team
Three years into a post-COVID world, it looks like remote work is here to stay. Some organizations have employees who work remotely full-time, while others spend part of the time remote and part of the time in the office.
Either way, a remote workforce presents particular challenges that require careful management. Here are some best practices to mitigate the risks and challenges for remote workers.
1. Understand Employee Challenges
Remote work can be difficult for both employers and employees. Common challenges include:
Less engagement due to a lack of face-to-face interactions with colleagues,
- Missed emails and other messages,
- Coordinating working and business hours,
- “Zoom fatigue” from requiring all cameras in virtual meetings to be on, and
- Distractions in the environment where the remote employee is working.
Managers should understand the challenges of remote work and prepare to address them with patience and the appropriate tools and strategies.
For example, allow employees to keep their cameras off during videoconferences. This can help reduce stress and camera fatigue.
Whenever possible, encourage employees to work when they are most productive, rather than requiring them to keep to specific business hours. This can help employees be more effective, giving them a flexible work schedule and helping them reduce distractions.
2. Focus on Cybersecurity
The rise in remote workforces could put companies at higher risk of data theft and security breaches, even if unintentional. Remote staff members may not receive sufficient security training, and their personal devices may not have enough protections.
Employers should consider areas of cybersecurity weakness, such as cloud services and personal devices. Here are a few things you may consider the following:
- Provide the same high level of cybersecurity training to all employees when they are first hired and at regular intervals;
- Create clear remote-work security policies and share them with all team members;
- Avoid having remote employees use their own devices to access company networks;
- Employ secure authentication and authorization methods; and
- Use virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect to company servers.
Most importantly, set up sufficient IT support to address cybersecurity needs and issues within the company. Make sure that both remote and in-person employees know who to contact in case of a security concern.
3. Create a New Leadership Role for Remote Workers
As more organizations get used to having remote teams, some have created new “Head of Remote” leadership roles to help make these teams more efficient. This role, which may go by other names, is responsible for organizing, strategizing, and communicating with remote teams.
The Head of Remote role requires specific skills and qualities, such as knowledge of creating a functional home office and encouraging success and engagement among remote employees. Companies interested in hiring an executive for remote teams should first define their biggest needs and seek candidates with a history of leadership and working remotely.
4. Proactively Include Remote Workers
Remote workers often feel forgotten or ignored when it comes to work-related events, decision making, and even advancement opportunities. This can lead to disengagement, reduced job satisfaction, and lower productivity. It may also put the company at serious risk of discrimination claims.
When recruiting and hiring remote workers, make sure to start them off right. If hiring workers in a different state or country, make sure you account for differences in compliance and legal issues, including taxes, payroll, and background screening. Make sure you create a global employee onboarding strategy that gives employees a positive onboarding experience that helps them feel prepared and supported in their role from day one.
Managers should make deliberate efforts to avoid excluding remote workers from company events and changes. Create policies that account for known discrepancies between remote and in-person workers, and consider including remote workers in the creation of those policies. Use performance measures and results to determine promotions, rather than how often a person is on-site.
Asking remote employees for their opinions is a significant gesture that they will appreciate. Solicit feedback through surveys or more casual conversations to find out how they feel about their work environment and what improvements they would like to see.
5. Communicate Effectively and Often
Communication breakdowns are a frequent issue when managing a remote workforce, reducing engagement and productivity. Here are some ways to promote frequent, clear communication among your team.
- Establish communication policies and expectations that apply to all employees, and share them widely.
- Determine which communication channels your team will use, and for which types of communications.
- Choose easy-to-use tools to make it easier for employees to share information and log on.
- Assign people who are responsible for helping other employees adopt communication tools.
- Schedule regular weekly team meetings. This helps ensure that everyone understands overall goals, deadlines, priorities, and expectations.
- Hold regular one-on-one meetings with each team member. This is not only a great way to exchange feedback, but it also helps managers better understand each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and goals.
From recruitment to performance reviews, best practices can help all employees, both on-site and remote, remain one cohesive team. This will help your company build an engaged, more productive workforce.