In response to the uncertainties and health risks presented by Covid-19, many companies and universities have asked their employees to work remotely. It is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance, as in times of crisis or rapidly changing circumstances, thoughtful preparation may not be feasible.

Managers must grasp the issues that can make remote employment particularly challenging. Otherwise, high-performing individuals may see a drop in job performance and engagement when they start working remotely, especially if they are not properly prepared and trained. Challenges inherent in remote work include lack of face-to-face supervision, lack of access to information, isolation and distractions at home. In saying that, employees using remote work effectively can be up to 47% more productive when working from home one day a week or more. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has opened many global opportunities for companies to meet their hiring needs with solutions like EOR services. While this offers flexibility and safety, it also presents unique challenges in maintaining productivity. Managing a remote workforce effectively requires a thoughtful approach and the implementation of specific strategies. According to University of Oxford, happy employees are 13% more productive. 

As much as remote work can be fraught with challenges, there are also relatively quick and cost-effective measures that managers can undertake to ease the transition.

remote workforce management

Image by Kristin Wilson on Unsplash

Here are ten essential tips for managing remote teams globally:

  1. Establish Clear Expectations: Start by setting transparent guidelines for work hours, deadlines, and goals. Clear expectations ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and knows what is expected of them. Communicate consequences for not meeting expectations to maintain accountability.
  1. Utilize Appropriate Tools: Equip your team with the necessary technology for effective communication and collaboration. This includes video conferencing software, project management tools, and messaging platforms. Choose tools that align with your team’s needs and provide training to ensure proficiency.
  1. Promote Open Communication: Encourage regular communication among team members through various channels such as email, chat, and video conferencing. Establish communication norms to streamline interactions and keep everyone informed.
  1. Provide Regular Feedback: Feedback is crucial for improvement and maintaining momentum. Offer both positive reinforcement and constructive criticism to guide your team towards success. Timely and respectful feedback fosters continuous growth.
  1. Set Boundaries: Define clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent burnout. Encourage employees to adhere to designated work hours and take breaks when needed. Emphasize the importance of disconnecting from work outside of scheduled hours.
  1. Encourage Collaboration: Foster a culture of collaboration where team members can work together seamlessly. Encourage sharing of ideas and cooperative efforts on projects. Establish protocols for file sharing and feedback to enhance teamwork.
  1. Provide Ongoing Training: Recognize that remote work requires unique skills and offer training to support your team’s development. Focus on areas such as communication, time management, and the use of remote work tools. Invest in continuous learning to adapt to evolving needs.
  1. Acknowledge Achievements: Celebrate the accomplishments of your team members to boost morale and motivation. Recognize their hard work and contributions in a meaningful manner. Regular acknowledgment reinforces a sense of value and appreciation.
  1. Promote Well-Being: Encourage employees to prioritize their well-being by taking regular breaks and practicing self-care. Support a healthy work-life balance by advocating for time off when needed. Emphasize the importance of mental and physical health.
  1. Cultivate a Positive Culture : Foster a positive and inclusive work culture that promotes camaraderie and support. Encourage teamwork, humor, and camaraderie to strengthen connections among team members. Celebrate accomplishments and milestones together to promote a sense of community. Managers must recognise stress, listen to employees’ emotions and concerns, and empathise with their problems, especially when transitioning to remote work abruptly. If a newly remote employee is clearly struggling but not communicating stress or anxiety, ask them how they’re doing.

Email alone is insufficient. Remote workers benefit from having a “richer” technology, such as video conferencing, that gives participants many of the visual cues that they would have if they were face-to-face and help them build better professional relationships. Video conferencing has numerous benefits, particularly for small groups. One of the most important actions a manager can do is to create opportunities for employees to interact socially (by having informal chats about non-work issues) while working remotely. This is true for all remote workers, but especially for those who have been abruptly transferred out of the office. According to research on emotional intelligence and emotional contagion, employees look to their bosses for guidance on how to handle unexpected changes or crisis circumstances. When a boss expresses stress and hopelessness, it has what Daniel Goleman refers to as a “trickle-down” effect on staff. Effective leaders take a two-pronged approach, acknowledging employees’ tension and concern in difficult situations while also affirming their team’s confidence.

In conclusion, maintaining high productivity in a remote workforce requires a combination of clear expectations, effective communication, technological support, and a supportive culture. By implementing these strategies, organizations can empower their remote teams to thrive and achieve success in a virtual and distributed environment. With thoughtful planning and proactive measures, remote work can be a rewarding and productive experience for both employers and employees alike.