WebRTC Expert Feature

December 22, 2021

Managerial tips when dealing with remote employees

Working remotely has become the new norm. People across the globe are working forty hour weeks from the comfort of their home or personal office space. With that comes incredible benefits and unique challenges. In-person communication is no longer on the table which can create faster channels of communication but may result in miscommunication. Working independently can result in an increase in productivity for some though isolation can prove difficult. A personal space allows for a far more relaxed working environment but distractions are more likely to be present. This new trend is more malleable than the traditional office space which, ideally, should allow for unique growth with continued production. Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin American, spoke on this, “We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they are at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will."

With remote work still a somewhat new staple, there are numerous things to be educated on in regards to it. We spoke with a few business executives to determine their managerial tips when dealing with remote employees.

Give clear framework

Amanda E. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer of Tatbrow, a company offering unique eyebrow focused beauty products. She believes it is imperative to be extremely clear with what employees should be accomplishing or doing with their time.

“When dealing with remote employees, many managers believe that increased structure is necessary. Indeed, whether it is giving out daily tasks or mandating specific working hours, lots of executives attempt to replicate the in-office environment for the purposes of organization and efficiency. However, in this new age of the workplace, focus on providing your employees with as much agency and autonomy as possible. Specifically, provide weekly goals that must be met as well as check-ins and proactive office hours. However, how and when an employee works should be decided by them. With increased autonomy, higher rates of retention and employee satisfaction will follow.”

Ask for feedback

Uprising Food features a variety of bread products made with purity and nutrition in mind. Their founder and CEO, William Schumacher, suggests that managers pay close attention to the thoughts and opinions of their employees to work towards the best possible work environment.

“Every quality work space includes a manager who has the desire and ability to hear out their employees. This is especially true in a digital environment as communication has been streamlined to focus solely on business - personal engagement doesn’t happen as much. Be sure to meet with your employees one-on-one to ask probing questions about how their current work experience could be improved. Sending out surveys is an effective way to gain the perspective of an entire team. A happy employee is a productive employee.”

Utilize different channels

One of the beauties of the modern era is the variety of technology available for communication. Email, Zoom, chat rooms, and collaborative documents all fall into this category. Some messages are better suited to unique platforms and making use of these allows for an increase in synergy. Hardwood Bargains is a brand specializing in excellent, manufactured priced, hardwood floors. Their CEO, Ben Thompson, considers different communication channels to be important.

“Leaving an employee desiring more direction or interaction can cause a dip in morale. Today’s technology allows all the gaps to be filled with information crucial to their success. Video meetings allow for personal connection which should be a staple for information of great importance. Email is an avenue to more direct and thoughtful communication and instant messaging allows fast, less formal communication. Evaluate and tailor your messages to these platforms appropriately in order to promote professional chemistry.”

Be aware of the pitfalls

Kaspar Povilanskas is the co-founder and CEO of Nowadays Media. They focus on social media growth and engagement on behalf of other brands and influencers. He believes that managers need to familiarize themselves with all the downfalls of working remotely so as to work to avoid them.

“A remote position presents unique challenges because of the nature of the position. Despite working for a company or under a boss, remote work can be very independent. Because of this, managers should focus on team building exercises and checking in. This independence can also result in employee solitude which is another reason to work towards including everyone. Outside of this, technology issues and information security are other concerns. Be sure to keep your IT staff involved at every turn.”

Give them what they need

De La Calle has produced and retails a fermented Mexican beverage featuring probiotics. Their COO, Danielle Calabrese, considers supplying employees with the necessary technology items to be vastly essential.

“There’s nothing worse than scheduling a Zoom call only to start it and discover that an employee is unable to join due to technology limitations or ability. Take the time to speak with your employees and find out if they have a quality camera and microphone. This employee should also know how to operate the technology they’re responsible for. There are even times where the employee doesn’t have quality internet. These issues should be solved quickly so as to not frustrate you or the employee or negatively impact productivity.”

Make yourself available

Without a physical office space, the “open-door policy” may seem irrelevant but it may be as important as ever. Informing employees that they can message or call in order to ask a question or seek further guidance will promote connectivity. JOW is a personalized grocery shopping service. Their co-founder and CEO, Jacques-Edouard Sabatier, suggests this approach.

“Lack of clarity in the workplace is nothing new. Sometimes, an employee may need answers regarding an ongoing project or certainty about a minute detail. Whatever the case may be, let your employees know that you are available to assist them as much as possible. No employee should be left to problem solve alone. An effort like this will also serve to promote solidarity which is a huge benefit to a digital workplace.”

Believe in them

Raul Porto is the owner and president of Porto’s Bakery, a family owned Cuban bakery based in California. He believes taking an attitude of, and demonstrating confidence in employees goes a long way.

“Without seeing your employees in person consistently, it’s easy for thoughts of doubt to creep in about their potential or performance. First, realize that they wouldn’t have been hired if they weren’t properly evaluated by your hiring team. Second, take this opportunity to take on a mindset of belief in them and in the system they’re a part of. If you’re a good manager, you’ve created a productive machine and quality people will find their place with the correct guidance.”

Praise accomplishments

Mood Health is an online psychiatrist clinic specializing in medication. Their CEO, Mike Clare, suggests being intentional and vocal about affirming the success of those working under you to promote positivity.

“Office parties with cake to celebrate success may no longer be an option but that should not prevent you from praising your employees for a job well done. Larger accomplishments such as meeting sales goals can be celebrated over a video call with employees using company issued, food delivery gift cards. But small successes should be noted too. Let your people know their efforts have not gone unnoticed.”

Over communicate

A potentially successful employee has all the necessary information at their fingertips. If they have to go searching for the information they require to complete tasks their productivity will suffer. Brandon Adcock is the co-founder and CEO of Nugenix, is a brand featuring a variety of male focused supplements. He considers this approach wise.

“Overcommunication is vital when working with remote employees. Miscommunication happens within the office and in person, virtual work creates even more strain on communication. Over communicating is one way to help keep miscommunication at bay and create healthy workplaces even remotely.”

A remote workspace and the accompanying employees is a very prominent model of business in today’s world. In a few ways, it retains the characteristics of a traditional office space. However, there are some stark differences which need to be approached creatively. When handled correctly, these differences can become strengths as evidenced by Michael Dell, the CEO of DELL,  “Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries and continents.”

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