7 Best Practices to Get the Most Out of Your Remote Workforce

25 February, 2021  

We don’t blame you if this sudden wave of work-from-home restructuring caught you by surprise – many companies have been forced to implement a remote workforce with few, if any, preparation in advance.

However, this paradigm shift has undoubtedly come to stay, as many businesses discover the advantages and decide not to go back to the office – Which brings challenges of its own!

Effectively managing a team has always been complex enough, but now many companies need to adapt to do it remotely! And let’s face it: it can be really tricky to ensure your employees are staying productive, motivated, and engaged when you are not always there to see it so.

The good news is that for every problem, there is a solution. Today, we will discuss some efficient and effective practices on remote workforce management for you to make your staff shine, even at a distance!

Remote Workforce

1. Choose the Right Digital Tools

The first vital aspect of remote workforce management is ensuring everyone has the necessary equipment and the right digital tools to work as efficiently as possible.

Now, every company has different needs, but here are some digital tools that hardly any remote workforce can do without:

  • Team chat apps. Having a messaging platform enables employees to communicate immediately with each other in case they need a soon response, which can be hard to get via email. Our team uses Slack – and we highly recommend it!
  • Cloud storage platforms. Storing files in a cloud storage app ensures you can access them from any device, which can be a lifesaver if technical issues arise. Moreover, it enables your team to collaborate comfortably in the same files. Our favorites? Dropbox and Box, although Google Drive also deserves an honorable mention.
  • Project Management Tools. Nothing beats a project management tool to keep your team organized and on the same page. They show information on project descriptions and deadlines and help maintain an organized workflow. Trello, Asana, and Monday are three project management tools you should keep an eye on.
  • Video conferencing apps. Video conference is the closest means of communication remote workers have to an actual face-to-face conversation. Zoom and Google Meet are the most well-known choices, but it can be sometimes faster to use Slack for one-on-one video calls.

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2. Use Video Content to Train Your Staff

Training your staff can be burdensome without engaging content. Moreover, whether you need to explain new procedures to old employees or show the ropes to newcomers, the training process can end up consuming much of your time! Even worse, it may not even result in a useful learning experience. Luckily, that can all be addressed using custom training videos.

Custom training videos are synonymous with quick, efficient lessons that your remote workforce can access any time they need, without taking up much of your (or their) time. What’s best, you can ensure they have an effective learning experience.

Video has many didactic and synthesizing qualities that can foster higher retention of a lesson. After all, it’s no mystery we tend to recall best those lessons that we enjoy and understand – things that are easily accomplished with training videos!

However, to make the most out of this tool, you should use a private video hosting site that allows you to check how many employees have watched a lesson and for how long. It should also let you include interactive content, such as brief tests, at the end of your videos. This way, it’ll be easier for you to track your staff’s progress.

3. Define Work Schedules

People perform best at different times of the day: for some, it may be easier to work when everyone else at home is still asleep, and others may thrive in the afternoon or at night. Whatever the case, your remote workforce’s schedule may not matter as long as they deliver high-quality work on time.

That said, it can be a problem if your department relies on every employee working simultaneously as a team.

In that case, a fixed schedule can ensure everybody is available if another team member needs something ASAP.

Another great benefit of a fixed schedule is that it can help define the often blurry line between work and personal life. This is a common problem among remote workers since it can be hard to set boundaries when your workplace is also your home. However, you can also deal with this issue by setting realistic and clear goals for your staff.

With all this information in mind, it’s up to you to decide whether to define a fixed schedule or be flexible with your staff’s working time.

4. Manage without Micromanaging

In an office environment, controlling your staff’s work and progress can be as simple as taking a peek over their shoulders. But it can be challenging, even nerve-breaking, to track their work when it comes to remote workforce management. So, how can you make sure they are doing their jobs?

A great way to go about it is to focus on results rather than working hours. Yes, instead of tracking your employee’s performances depending on the number of hours they are connected to your team chat app, take a look at their productivity.

Set well-defined goals and deadlines and inform your staff about them. This way, you can compare the work they did with the standards they should have met.

Going beyond this point and continuously checking in with your employees can make them feel mistrusted, which can negatively affect their work engagement and, therefore, performance.

On the contrary, trust that they will perform their work and speak up only if they aren’t meeting their goals.

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5. Foster Company Culture

We sometimes relate company culture to work facilities, like nap rooms and daycares inside the office. In truth, company culture exceeds the limits of your premises: it’s about how you treat your employees and how they feel about the company. So, company culture prevails in a remote working environment, although it can be harder to foster it.

Of course, each company has a different set of values for their working environment, so it’d be remiss of us to give you broad advice regarding this topic. That’s why we will stay away from your company culture itself and focus on how to nurture it.

The most obvious way is through actions. Every remote workforce management decision you take should reflect your company’s values.

Now, if you want to take your company culture to the next level, you can design an internal marketing strategy meant to boost work engagement and loyalty!

The idea is to make each employee feel part of something bigger than themselves. You can, for instance, motivate your team, congratulate them, and keep them up-to-date with any important announcement. All these things can be easily achieved using branded video content, as other means of communication, such as emails, are more impersonal and less impactful for fostering company culture.

6. Encourage Social Interactions

They say no man is an island, but it can feel pretty much like it when the only contact you have with your coworkers is behind a screen!

This feeling of isolation not only affects your remote workforce personally but can also impact the company’s employee retention and work engagement. So it’s a problem you can, and should deal with promptly.

You can try to bridge the distance between your staff by encouraging social interactions beyond working matters.

Try to create a chat channel to discuss topics not related to work and organize social gatherings (respecting the safety standards, of course) to build connections among your workers. The idea is to nurture the sense of companionship and friendship that would take place inside an office so that all your remote workers feel part of your team even if they are working from home.

7. Provide & Ask for Feedback

Something as simple as giving and receiving feedback can positively benefit your remote workforce management.

Congratulating your staff on a job well done will motivate them to keep up the good work. At the same time, providing constructive criticism can help them go a long way and tweak any aspect that needs improvement. However, this is something that needs to be done tactfully to not offend anyone.

If you want to avoid any misinterpretation, consider delivering your feedback through a video or voice call. Chat messages or emails may not show the right tone of your feedback, leading to an unnecessary back-and-forth conversation to clear things up.

Now, regularly asking your staff for feedback can be as beneficial as giving it. Pulse surveys can work wonders for that purpose – that is, if you take your employees’ opinions into account and work on your room for improvement 😉

The Takeaway

If there’s one point to take home from this guide is that effective communication is essential in a remote working environment.

Inside an office, it’s easy to keep people informed and ensure they are productive and thriving. There, communication just happens, sometimes without you even intending to! But in a remote working setup, it’s an entirely different story.

In a remote team, word doesn’t spread as much as in an office. Unless you properly inform your staff of something, they may never hear about it!

So, you must provide your remote workforce with all the necessary tools for them to organize and communicate efficiently. Equally important, you need to inform them of your expectations and goals and ensure they are properly trained to perform their tasks.

Do it right, and you’ll have a setup in your hands that’s as efficient as any office building. Sometimes, even more so!

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