Supervising remote employees in a remote work setting can be tricky since many companies are still adapting to working remotely. As a result, many employees might not grasp what is happening in your company well unless you supervise them regularly and have an open communication line. Think about it: You can't possibly count everything going on at your company day and night, leaving the constant challenge of ensuring your remote employees are working hard at their tasks and keeping up with deadlines.
Employers should expect their remote workforce to experience slightly increased absenteeism and lower productivity, making it more challenging to provide the same support as an in-office employee. But it doesn't have to be so. With these top ten best practices for supervising remote employees, you can feel confident in your remote employee's abilities and productivity while still running your business from wherever you happen to be.
The Challenges of Supervising Remote Employees
With the rate of employees opting to work remotely, employers and managers are left wondering how they're supposed to properly supervise remote teams they rarely see in person. To understand the best practices for managing remote workers, let’s start by looking at some challenges they seek to solve.
1. Lack of Clear Expectations
Lack of clear expectations is one of the main challenges companies face when managing remote teams. The problem here is that most employers or team managers are not always clear about their expectations and goals for the team. This is because when a manager is not present in person, he or she cannot properly understand what type of work needs to be done by the team or how much time should be spent on each task. This makes it difficult for managers to have an accurate understanding of how long it will take for a project to be completed and what kind of progress has been made so far by the members. As a result, many companies have issues establishing clear expectations when supervising remote workers and monitoring their progress throughout the project.
Feeling overwhelmed with your project? We got just the resources for you. Our Tried and Tested Ways to Track Remote Project Milestones article will give you insight into the best practices when it comes to project management.
2. Lack of Face-To-Face Supervision
The second challenge faced when supervising remote employees is the lack of face-to-face supervision. This means that the manager managing the remote team has no real opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, which can be problematic because it creates a disconnect between themselves and their employees.
3. Lack of Communication
The third challenge faced when managing remote teams is a lack of communication. Because there are no clear instructions or guidance on how to do their job, remote workers may not be able to get their work done efficiently or effectively, which can lead to poor performance and morale issues within the team and their position as an employee at an organization.
4. Tracking Work and Productivity
The fourth challenge is tracking work and productivity (or lack thereof). Because employees are left to their own devices with no clear guidance from management, they may not be able to complete tasks without having any idea what needs to be done next or when it needs to be done. This makes the job of supervising remote employees a daunting task because remote workers and managers alike will not know what needs to be accomplished next or if something has been completed correctly
5. Isolation and Loneliness
This is another challenge faced when supervising remote workers. Working remotely is great because it has many advantages but also has some negative aspects, like isolation and loneliness. It can be difficult for remote workers who work from home to connect with their employers daily, resulting in employees feeling disconnected from the company. This can cause issues in the workplace because it makes it harder for managers to understand what their remote employees are thinking or feeling about their jobs.
It also makes it harder for managers to keep up with what's happening at work due to less interaction with their employees. Loneliness can also play into burnout among remote workers because they may not have anyone they can talk things out with or get advice from at work other than their boss or immediate supervisor, and that's if they're lucky enough to work in an office setting somewhere close by where they live.
6. Lack of Team Cohesiveness
Remote teams are not as cohesive as in-office teams, making it difficult to manage remote employees. When there is a lack of visibility between the members, they may feel disconnected from each other and lose motivation. They may also get frustrated if they face obstacles in their work due to a lack of coordination among team members, making it difficult for employers to manage remote workers.
Burnout can happen when you don't have enough face-to-face interactions with your team. It's not just about having physical proximity. It's also about the time spent communicating via email and other tools. Remote work can be isolating if people cannot see each other regularly and share thoughts and ideas, making it more difficult to manage remote employees. This can lead to a lack of team cohesion and trust between team members, which undermines productivity and makes it very hard to manage remote employees. As a manager, you want to ensure that your team members are not overworked and exhausted. This is especially important when it comes to remote workers. Since they do not have the same access to resources as their local coworkers, it can be hard for them to remain productive for long periods.
How do you effectively manage remote teams? Read our blog on How to manage your remote team effectively for more exclusive information
Best Practices for Supervising remote employees
To effectively manage remote teams, managers and employers have to note that they are not dealing with onsight employees, and rules and regulations that apply to an onsight team might not work that well for remote employees. They must find new ways to continue to hold employees accountable. This means employers may find success by focusing more on what gets done and whether it meets well-defined quality standards.
To get started, below are ten best practices to help employers when it comes to managing remote workers.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Some Remote Work Challenges
Although we discussed this in the previous section, we can't afford to mention it again. This is because studying and familiarising yourself with challenges experienced by remote workers will give you insight into what you can do to tackle them. Some issues we mentioned earlier were
- lack of communication
- Isolation and Loneliness
- Lack of Team Cohesiveness
- Lack of clear expectations
- Tracking work and productivity
- lack of trust
- lack of face-to-face supervision
Knowing some of these problems will give you insight into how to solve them. You can collaborate with your employees and ask them to feel a questionnaire or conduct an interview, asking them what they think will solve some of these challenges. You can take this insight and use it to optimize remote work experience. If you get this right, supervising remote teams will be a little bit easier.
2. Determine Your Responsibilities
Another thing you need to take note of when supervising remote employees is knowing what you're responsible for. Do you need to be in the office, or can you do everything from home? What are the expectations of each member of the team? What are their roles? How do they interact with each other? Answers to these questions can help you figure out how to effectively manage remote employees.
3. Create Structures
To manage remote employees effectively, you'll want to create structures that allow everyone to be productive and effective at their jobs without constantly trying to find people or coordinate schedules. You should have clear policies about what time people are expected and when they need to have meetings so that everyone knows what's expected of them and how they can best work together.
Furthermore, there should be a clear timetable for meetings, and employees should know what their colleagues are working on so that they have an idea of where they fit in the process. When having meetings, make sure that you consider time zones so that some team members don't have the meetings too early or too late. Without a clear structure, it will be difficult for you to manage them effectively.
4. Improve communication
It's crucial to establish clear lines of communication and share information quickly if you want to manage remote employees. Since communication is the backbone of any good relationship, it's essential that your team members feel connected to you and each other so they can work effectively in a variety of situations.
5. Set expectations
The remote employee will report to you, so they must understand their responsibilities and get the support they need if something goes wrong. Managers should set expectations for how they will be managed when hiring remote employees. Remote workers must know what the job will look like to give them a clear picture of the involved tasks and understand how often they need to be completed.
It would be best if you also defined what success looks like for each task and any additional criteria that may be required for success. For example, if hiring a technical writer, you might want to define success as publishing at least one article per month on your company blog or website. When hiring a project manager, you need to define what success looks like for each task and any additional criteria that may be required for success.
Setting expectations means identifying important remote productivity KPIs and tracking them: We got an article covering all you need to know on How To Manage KPIs For Remote Teams
6. Conduct Individual Check-Ins
When supervising remote employees, check in regularly with them to see how they're doing and ensure they know you care about them as people and their performance at work. Providing one-on-one face time with all your team members is essential. This way, they can discuss any issues they aren’t comfortable discussing in the group meetings. Consider setting up a short one-on-one meeting of 10-15 minutes once or twice a week with everyone on your team to get an insight into what they have done and any other challenges. Hopefully, your team doesn’t need constant supervision, but it’s essential for everyone to know they can reach out for one-on-one support if needed.
7. Prioritize Outcomes Over Activity
It's easy to get distracted by what your remote employees do each day, but it's essential that you focus on the bigger picture. If you want your employees to be productive and engaged in their work, it’s vital that you prioritize what matters most. This means setting clear objectives for each team member and ensuring they can achieve them. To do this, set up regular meetings with your team members – either face-to-face or virtual – so that they can discuss goals and understand where they fit into your organization as a whole.
You also must ensure that your main goal is getting the work done and not just managing the person themselves. This means constantly checking in with your remote team members to see how things are going and ensuring they have all the resources they need to get their job done.
If you want to learn more about remote jobs. Read our blog on Top Remote Jobs and Where To Find Them
8. Make use of the right tools when supervising remote workers.
There are different tools out there that can help you manage remote employees and their progress on projects. The most common tool is Slack, which allows you to connect directly with everyone on your team through an instant messaging platform. You can also use Hipchat or Campfire if you prefer a chatroom-style interface instead of an instant message. Additionally, using an application like Zoom will allow remote workers access to high-definition video conferencing, making it easier for them to see and hear each other during meetings. You can also use a tracking app like Time doctor to track what your employees are doing and their project progress.
These tools can help teams stay organized and communicate effectively even if they're not physically together.
Do you want to have a better experience when working from home? Read our blog on Remote Work: Top 14 Tools To Make Your Job Easier
9. Establish Rules of Engagement For Supervising Remote Employees.
Despite being away from their desk, employees still need clear guidelines on how they should be conducting themselves while working remotely — especially when it comes down to policies like breaks or lunch hours! If nothing else, make sure you're clear about what activities are okay and which aren't so that there is mutual respect between managers and employees to help your work of supervising remote employees be easier.
10. Give Team Members The Chance To Input Ideas
One way to manage remote employees is by asking your remote team for feedback. This way, they can help you understand them better. Each employee is different, and they're the ones who know how they work best and get the job done. This is why you must get their input on creating this way of working.
When managing remote teams, the goal of your relationship should be to build trust, respect and credibility while being clear on the expectations you have of them. It would be best if you remembered that they will not always be able to do everything you want them to because they work remotely. We suggest setting goals with quarterly objectives on when specific tasks need to be completed if you need them done by a specific time each week.
Also, set realistic deadlines and measurable objectives within the goals so that your workers don't feel overwhelmed when asked to do too many things at once. Clear communication allows everyone on the team to stay focused and not stressed out!