Once upon a time, arrangements like ‘work from home’ or ‘telecommuting’ were considered to be in the realm of forward-thinking companies. If you, as an employee, got to work from home regularly, then your organization was considered ‘cool’. Today, the situation has turned around. One in four workers is working from home at some point during the week. Organizations are more than happy for workers to work from home and are also able to cut down on costs as a result. But the question looming on many an employer’s heads is, ‘how to manage telecommuters?’ Managing a team that is remote and also scattered might require more patience and effort than you think. Getting the job done in time while ensuring there is a cohesive team in place, where workers know and like each other (to some extent) is a tall ask.
Have you been assigned a remote-working team? Has the experience left you confused and stressed? Thankfully, you can try some of these tips to help serve as a guide on how to manage telecommuters.
1) Communication is essential
This one is a no-brainer! Assign clear roles and responsibilities. Stay in tight communication with your team. Ask them the right questions, give them inputs when they’re struggling. Motivate them on days they feel low or when they really need to come through. And don’t take this lightly. When your employees feel they can talk to you about anything, you’ve won as a leader. And such a situation can arise only when you are always ready to communicate.
How can you ensure this?
Conference calls are the way to go! With grptalk, you can schedule a conference call for a certain time and on a certain day and you will receive a phone call. Answer the call and get on a conference with the rest of your team as well.
2) Set expectations
Let your team know what output you’re looking at. If you want half the team to be available early in the morning, or work through the weekend, keep them informed at all times. Create a calendar for holidays and plan your workflow accordingly. Let them in on your work ethic and what you expect them to follow- be it a 24-hour TAT on emails or submission of reports at a certain time every day. Ensure you let them know that you’re counting on them to do a few things for you.
3) Set time aside for facetime
Nothing can replace good old face-to-face communication. But how to manage telecommuters who don’t come to the office? Ensure that you have at least one video conference with your remote-working team every week. Share updates with your team, have conversations around common interests and bond well. You must also aim for in-person meetings every now and then depending on how scattered your team is. A quarterly meet up with the team is ideal.
4) Establish trust and uphold it
With a telecommuting team, trust is of paramount importance. It is impractical to follow every worker’s schedule, so you will need to trust that they are getting the job done. In order to help you trust them better, you can establish certain guidelines with them like replying to texts, sending email updates every evening and the like.
Likewise, it is extremely crucial that your workers learn to trust you too. So, make sure that you let them trust you. Listen to them without judgment and be a good confidante. Serve as the bridge between them and the top management and make sure they know that you have their best interests at heart. Their growth must always be your intention.
5) Focus on the output
If you’re wondering how to manage telecommuters in your team and their output, you might find this challenging. However, it is best to keep your focus on the final outcome. If you have already set the right expectations, your workers will know what their role is. This is where you have to let go and believe that they will bring you the output you desire. Have regular follow-ups so that they are on track but don’t worry about how it’s going to happen.
6) Have the right tools in place
Work from home employees are going to want to get on the task with little to no hassles of connecting to the company servers. Right from workflow to conference calls, focus on providing the right tools that work so that they waste no time in back and forth. With telecommuting jobs on the rise, there are now many tools that you can use from Slack, Zoom, grptalk (home page link), Trello and the like. Get your team to register themselves on these applications with access to the premium versions so you can avoid going through this later. Take them through a basic user flow training so that they can work on these independently.
7) Be there for telecommuters
Many remote workers feel lonely and depressed due to a lack of bonding with the larger team. So, avoid making them feel that way. Keep in tight communication with them and ensure that they know and interact with others on the team. Your local team is around you but the remote guys need your support more. Be proactive in reaching out and ask the right questions. They’re going to love you.
As the world is turning to AI, employees are beginning to feel the burn. At such a point, being connected and supportive will go a long way in helping them achieve their and your goals more efficiently.