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How to be a Good Manager to Employees Working Remotely

Izabela Wlodarczyk on July 16, 2020
How to be a good manager to remote workers: a table with eight empty chairs in a conference room no one uses because they all work from home now

Remote management is on many people’s minds these days as more companies expand their operations and revisit their policies during seismic, world-wide changes. Managing people or entire teams remotely is a challenge, to say the least, that requires a lot from people in leadership positions—skills they may not have had a chance to develop in an office setting.

Remote work opportunities can bring in some promising talent and great successes for businesses going forward and need specific attention to management and communication skills. A Tedx talk by Stanford economist Nick Bloom revealed that businesses will likely witness a huge productivity boost when they make working from home an option. With more and more companies learning this lesson, it’s time to think about how to best support growing remote teams.

If you’re wondering how to be a good manager when dealing with remote workers, here are our top tips.

Four Remote Management Tips

1. Attract the Right Kind of Talent

It’s important to understand what kind of employee is suited to working from home. Your recruitment manager or HR department must make a concentrated effort to understand what kind of candidate is best suited for remote work. Ideal remote workers are intrinsically self-motivated. They are able to handle the physical barriers between teammates and possess excellent written and verbal communication skills. It’s also great if they already have experience working remotely and understand some of the nuances involved in a remote setting. Then, once the ideal candidate is found, an environment must be created and maintained to retain their talent. 

2. Remote Management Requires Communication

To manage remote employees well, there needs to be an emphasis on creating a strong communication framework that incorporates the right tools and strategies to build a company culture. Viewing remote workers as assets who are no less important than in-house teams is essential. Often, virtual workers might feel left out, especially if their in-office counterparts are located across the country or around the globe. When employees work from home, they depend on their communication systems to stay in the loop. This means every company needs to make sure that its remote employees have access to excellent equipment, a great Internet connection and those communication tools we mentioned before.

Creating your own custom domain name will allow you to simply link a short URL to shared tools such as Google’s G Suite or Microsoft 365. That will make communicating, coordinating, scheduling and event planning easier for your entire group.

3. Virtual Presence and People Management 

A robust communication framework should allow employees across departments and locations to know what is happening in your company. Company-wide meetings on a regular basis, with remote capability built in, should address company initiatives and goals, financial stats or insights and over-all performance. Meetings, whether via phone or video call, allow managers to connect with remote teams. This makes for more effective management by building relationships and a virtual presence. Since virtual workers might feel left out due to their physical absence from the office, checking in with them frequently and building a culture of transparency allows companies to bridge that gap. It shows teamwork and gratitude for remote workers and their daily contributions to team or company successes.

4. Time Management and Tracking

This one’s optional, but if you’re worried that remote employees will waste company time, you can invest in time tracking tools. Tools like Timely and Hubstaff allow automatic time tracking and deliver detailed reports on your employees’ productivity. But before you resort to time tracking, which can make employees feel uncomfortable, think of ways you can measure their productivity in other ways. Consider putting specific deliverables in place, such as deadlines, weekly project goals or daily check-ins to keep an eye on your team members without invading their space or disrupting their workflow. If you promote good work habits and maintain the same vision as your employees, you will be able to build trust. Sharing a vision and having a strong support built in from the start should help with accountability and company loyalty.

People Management for the Win

Building a positive remote work culture takes time and effort but is vital to your success when managing people, especially remote workers. Businesses of all sizes, and across all industries—from real estate to tech—are turning to remote talent. The conversation of remote work has been growing steadily and with 61% workers ready to leave a job due to lack of flexibility, it’s clear that flexible work options need to be taken seriously.

Our above tips on how to be a good manager to remote employees may help your small business streamline work-from-home policies, fine-tune intra-team relationships and create a work culture that celebrates remote workers. If you’re looking for even more advice, check out our complete Startup Guide for small businesses and side hustles. Knowing what you’ll need to work remotely and personalizing these tips to your company’s needs will make the experience fluid and enjoyable for the entire team.