Top Challenges of Managing Remote Employees with Solutions
Talking about the United States, around a quarter of the workforce is working from home. Clearly, the time has changed, and working from home has become the new normal. New routines and new policies have left the leaders as well as employees separated from each other. More than that, such change has made the role of managers tougher than before. Virtual leaders are facing a range of challenges while managing remote employees. It is apparent that a lot of difficulties arise when the managers and employees work from different places and have no close connection while working.
There is an exchange of thoughts as well as ideas when a team and leader work together. Working from a remote setting has put such practice aside, and due to this, ample problems arise at work and among managers as well as employees. This post talks about such issues along with the solutions managers can count on.
What does a remote employee mean?
A remote employee is a person who does official tasks from home or from any other location but not from the organization’s center. Working remotely is also known as telecommuting or teleworking, in which the employee works full-time (the provided office hours) from a location far from the office. In this arrangement, the remote worker does not have to go to the office, and all work is done from home or from another site that is not the workplace. Many companies hire full-time remote working employees depending on the type of operations.
Challenges and solutions to managing remote employees
When it comes to employers, handling a workforce that works remotely has become a challenging task. Here are the most common challenges of managing remote employees along with solutions.
1. Tracking productivity
Keeping track and monitoring the productivity of remote employees are the major issues. The main problem is that often managers do not know how to track the employee’s progress. Also, it is obvious that remote monitoring is tough and different from managing employees on-site. In an online setting, managers find it difficult to keep an eye on everyone.
Solution: Make use of task management tools to assign the work to the employee. By using such software, managers can set tasks priority-wise and can monitor every employee’s workflow. Once the task is done, the employee will update the task in the tool, and the manager can get a complete view of how quickly and efficiently the employees do the task. Team leaders can also schedule a regular call with the remote employees or team for discussion or to get a recap of which tasks have been completed. Also, it is always better to focus on the results rather than the number of hours an employee has worked. Having a result-oriented culture can drastically ease the worry of managers.
There is no doubt that healthy and clear communication is of utmost importance in remote teams. People understand things differently, and as a result, managers are unable to make sure that each team member has interpreted the same information in the same way. Also, there can be chances when some team members work in different time zones, where a few may be working, while others are sleeping. This can lead to a major communication gap.
Solution: Have a dedicated place for communication such as Slack, where remote employees can openly see the activity and communicate clearly. Such tools are very popular, and managers can even create groups to control message distribution. Using such space will also let employees understand what is happening online within the teams. The plus point will be the remote team members won’t feel isolated and will be in contact on the same platform.
3. Trust factor
From a survey, it was noted that managers have a lack of trust in remote employees. It is clear that supervising the work of remote workers is a tough task, and for that, tools can be used. But the root cause is the lack of trust, which can create big problems among team leaders and employees. Trust issues can affect collaboration and productivity.
Solution: Managers can build trust with the remote team by being clear and transparent about the scope of the project, daily work requirements, and updates on the tasks. Clearly defining the project expectations will keep managers and remote employees on the same page. Also, leaders should build trustworthy relationships with employees by instilling values such as being transparent and making employees understand their responsibility. Apart from this, managers should also increase the frequency of interactions with the virtual team.
4. Company culture
Company culture is a foundation and is considered the set of values that state how a team operates. It takes time to cultivate, foster, and instill healthy communication and company culture across the team members. The fact is that in the remote setting, employees do not get the in-office perks, and are not able to talk with the CEO. Further, remote workers do not have any fun get-togethers.
Solution: There should be a policy that the remote employee can directly reach out to the CEO if needed. Such a practice will make the virtual workers feel counted. Also, employers should offer virtual perks to remote workers such as giving gift cards, occasional retreats, gym membership, etc. Moreover, hosting virtual parties to have fun together will make remote workers feel connected with one another. It would be great if newly hired remote employees are given a virtual tour of the office. Flying to the company’s office once in a while can also work wonders.
This is one of the most common challenges that pop up in most organizations. The fact is that it not only depends on the managers but also on the virtual workers. When the deadlines are not met due to unclear communication, the managers get the urge to micromanage. Not only this, micromanaging also comes up due to a lack of trust in employees.
Solution: The first thing managers must do is to define the project requirements clearly to the virtual employees. If the task is divided and delegated among the team members, then there are high chances that nobody will miss the deadline. Eventually, managers do not have to worry about any employee missing the date of submission. Apart from this, managers should foster good relations with the employees and clearly communicate to build trust.
Also, managers must hire the right remote employees. Perfect employees are the ones who are proactive and can work independently. By doing so, managers can have peace of mind that the employee will do the work on time.
6. Different time zones
No doubt scheduling difficulties are the biggest problems in such settings. Further, issues happen when one has global team members. The first thing is that the employees work remotely and the other thing is different in timings. Sometimes when managers have to schedule a call with a particular employee or have to do a video conference with the team, a few members are not able to join. Due to this, all are unable to be on the same chapter, and this stresses the managers.
Solution: The best thing leaders can do is to create a poll that has different times and dates. Once everyone participates in the poll, the manager will have some idea of the times most employees can join a particular meeting. Choosing a time and date that can match the time zones of many employees will be a good idea. For the ones who could not attend the important meeting, managers can plan to share a recording the next day. This will help both managers as well as employees because both parties will be able to communicate the idea.
7. No one-on-one supervision
Lack of face-to-face interaction is a matter of concern as most managers believe that virtual employees do not work efficiently from home. On the other hand, employees may feel that the leader is not in touch with their needs. The worst case could be when employees do not get quick support while working. It is clear that limited communication and low engagement are the root causes. Also, different time zones, as stated above, are another issue that is out of control.
Solution: As there are different issues, the managers have to work to resolve each. Firstly, leaders have to understand that remote employees work fine from different locations. Next, managers should keep a few people within the team who can help other team members who are in different time zones. This will let one quickly help others in between the work. Lastly, managers have to make sure to delegate tasks effectively and should welcome questions from the employees. Face-to-face supervision is not possible, but managers can get on a call with the employees once a week to keep the scope of the project clear.
How Uphires can be part of the solution
These were the solutions to some of the common challenges of managing remote employees. No doubt, issues will be there in the virtual setting, and the only thing managers can do is ponder upon and take action to resolve every problem effectively. Not to mention, clear communication is the key pillar, and leaders, as well as employees, must communicate well. Managers just have to be clear about the profiles and must define the scope of the newly hired virtual employees to keep the challenges at bay. On Uphires, companies can hire talented remote employees for different positions. The platform has ample job seekers in a variety of sectors.