If managed effectively, remote workforces can be great for your business. Source: Shutterstock

How to effectively manage your remote workforce

WITH technology increasing worker mobility, the trend of virtual desks – made popular by the millennial generation – has caught on pretty quickly across the globe in recent years.

One obvious upshot of improved mobility is that for employees scouting for highly-skilled professionals, it expands the talent pool. Today’s recruiters are no longer hindered by geographical boundaries as they are able to shop for topnotch talent outside their traditional hunting grounds.

Having a remote workforce can come with its challenges, however, but if managed effectively, it can reap many benefits including:

Increased productivity: Though this may come to a surprise, remote workers have been shown to actually be more productive than their in-office counterparts. In a Global Workplace Analytics survey, 53 percent of remote workers stated they were likely to work overtime, while only 28 percent of office workers suggested they would do the same.

A reduction in costs: Having a remote workforce means that you will not have to provide as much office space. And with the rising cost of real estate, this provides a significant opportunity for employers to save money. According to one report, businesses can save as much as US$10,000 in office costs per year, per remote employee.

More talented employees: As mentioned above, being open to a remote workforce means you are increasing your access to a bigger talent pool of professionals.

But how do you ensure your remote team is performing according to expectations? Here are a few pointers:

Communication is key

As cliche as this may sound, communication is paramount to the success of all relationships, and remote employees are not an exception to this rule. Being away from the office environment means that communicating with your remote employees is even more important; after all, all they know is what you tell them.

In order for remote workforces to be effective, communication is critical.                                                                      Source: Shutterstock

If possible, use visual communication techniques such as video conferencing. Share your screen with your workers during meetings, ensuring they can fully understand what you’re discussing. Facilitate what you’re saying further by sending screenshots and images. Use work collaboration tools. For instance, work messenger platforms such as Slack, allow employees to communicate via instant messaging.

Set clear expectations

For many business owners, with the idea of “remote working” comes the assumption of relaxed employees, a decreased work production, and less control.

But through setting clear expectations from the very beginning of your relationship, you can ensure that this doesn’t happen. Schedule weekly meetings with your employees where you can walk through the tasks expected of them, set goals, establish a timeline, and discuss feedback about their progress.

Set monthly formal meetings where you can review your employees’ performance. Communicating how they are performing is crucial to keep them motivated.

Keep track of progress

With a remote workforce, one of the main challenges is keeping track of your employees’ work progress. However, there are many project management tools available, such as Trello, that allow all employees to update their peers with what they’re working on, as well as visually see what everyone else is up to.

You can keep track of your remote employees progress through work collaboration tools.                                          Source: Shutterstock

You may even want to consider introducing a time-tracking tool or key performance indicator (KPI). For some employees, knowing that their productivity and performance is being watched motivates them to work better. From a business management perspective, you will gain valuable insights into which employees are performing well and which need a little encouragement.

Video coffee breaks?

While scheduling formal meetings to discuss important topics with your remote employees is, of course, crucial, so is the need to have informal, relaxed catch-ups.

In a successful traditional working environment, conversations are not restricted to purely work-related topics. The opportunity to have informal chats can really benefit the company culture and build stronger connections between yourself and your employees.

So, make a coffee and arrange a video-catch-up with remote employees. It will make them feel more involved and connected to your business, thereby increasing their motivation.