How HR can manage remote employees without sacrificing productivity

March 12, 2021

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Companies are increasingly hiring employees who work remotely for a portion of the week. 

A Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80% plan to allow employees to work remotely after the pandemic, and 47% will enable employees to work from home full-time. In a PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term.

It's no wonder to see remote work has taken the world by storm.

Telecommuters save companies money by eliminating commuting costs and reducing office expenses such as rent, utilities, and furniture. 

Remote workers also have more flexibility to complete specific tasks that require them to be in-house. 

However, working from home can pose some challenges for HR teams in managing remote employees without compromising employee productivity.

That said, you'll learn 3 ways to manage remote employees and create a remote-work-friendly workplace for everyone.

1) Create a clear remote work policy

More companies are adopting a remote work policy. Considering how technology has advanced, it makes sense to do so. This can also be beneficial to both employees and employers. 

One study found that workers who worked from home were 13% more productive than their office-bound counterparts. At the same time, another showed that employers saved $2,000 per employee annually by allowing them to telecommute.

Define the scope of remote work

When creating a remote work policy, remember to define the scope of remote work. For example, it's crucial that you clearly state what is and isn't allowed when working from home. Have a meeting to discuss it. Bring up any objections and answer any questions they might have about the remote work policy.

Set clear expectations for employees and managers

As an employer, you must be sure that you have clear expectations set for your remote employees - especially since they have the benefit of not being able to read your facial expressions.

As a result, they may make assumptions about what is expected of them if this communication doesn’t occur verbally. 

Have discussions to review key performance metrics, explain what company's employee benefits they can tap into when working from home, and set standard communication channels for everyone. 

Evaluate employee's performance out of working hours

It would be best if you also considered evaluating employee performance regularly. To do this, ask your employees to create measurable goals at the beginning of each quarter or year and then measure their progress throughout the stipulated period. 

When transitioning to work from home, one common mistake is measuring work-from-home employees using traditional in-office key performance indicators (KPI) such as working hours. Productivity isn't just spending 8 hours at her desk, typing away and attending meetings. It's about working on the right things and achieving the right goals. 

Choose which work-from-home metrics to measure based on your company's or your teams' most important goals.

For developers, code needs to be completed on time. For the support team, customer satisfaction ratings or the number of resolved tickets need to hit a certain number. For the marketing team, the number of leads or completion of milestones can be measured too.

2) Give employees the tools they need to stay productive

As an employer, it's your responsibility to provide work from home employees with the tools they need to do their jobs. 

From pens and paper clips to projectors and high-tech devices like Rejuvenating Sleep Stations or Fitbits, you want them equipped with everything that can make them more productive. 

However, there are many other things you may not have thought of when deciding what equipment your employees need.

Here are some of the tools your employees need when shifting from a physical work environment to telecommuting. 

  • Ergonomic office space in their homes (table, chair, monitor, headsets, laptops, etc.)
  • High-speed internet access
  • Portable printers
  • A Virtual Private Network (VPN) software
  • The right software for the right team. For example, a design team needs Adobe Creative Suite installed on their laptops.
  • Online communication tools (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom)
  • Online collaboration software (Google Drive, Notion, Asana)
  • Self-tracker productivity tools (ClickUp, ProofHub, Evernote)
  • Online employee benefits platform to eliminate the need for physical receipts

One suggestion to manage remote employees effectively is to create a work-from-home toolkit packed with everything your employees need to be productive. Then deliver it to your employees' doorstep (or email).

3) Create a culture of trust and transparency

It's not a simple transition from having all your employees work together in the same location. In fact, you'll probably have some difficulties when managing remote teams versus local ones as they won't be able to see each other or talk face-to-face about issues that arise. 

Creating an effective workplace culture of transparency and trust is crucial for remote teams. With trust and transparency in place, team members can manage most challenges independently without needing management intervention.

The question is, how do you cultivate a culture of trust and transparency?

  1. First, having a clear job description is vital to hiring the right candidate. It helps you identify what skills are necessary for each position, as well as find someone who fits in with your company's telecommuting culture.
  2. Second, regularly communicate with your employees to build trust and create a comfortable remote work environment. Let them know that the company has their back whether they're in the office or not.
  3. Third, provide opportunities for professional development, such as online conferences or workshops. Did you know that training and development is one of the most sought benefits from the employees? Telecommuting made it easier to provide a whole slew of training choices to your employees at a lower cost.

Fourth, encourage open two-way feedback where your employees can give and receive feedback anonymously. The best way to facilitate is by using employee feedback software. However, you can also conduct regular one-on-one meetings between the managers and their subordinates to exchange feedback.

Final Words

It's a common misconception that managing remote employees is the same as managing those on-site. 

However, it's important to remember that these two types of employees are not the same, and you need to account for their unique challenges when working with them. 

Remote workers face challenges such as lack of instruction or feedback from supervisors and a sense of isolation that in-office staff does not have to contend with.

It is an investment in you and your team to implement these tips:

  1. Create a clear remote work policy.
  2. Give employees the tools they need to stay productive.
  3. Create a culture of trust and transparency.

The better you understand the needs of managing remote employees, the better organisation you'll become. 

You'll be prepared for a world where remote work is becoming the norm.

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