Whether coordinating a team across multiple office locations or managing full-time remote workers, today's business leaders have to deal with a new set of challenges. Here are some ways for an effective remote manager to address these potential obstacles.
With today's modern business tools, managers no longer have to worry about constantly pestering management for travel reimbursement or hours spent in lines at the airport. One such tool that will add immediate value to any team or organization is Slack.
Slack is a powerful, cloud-based collaboration software, which leverages features from communication channels to budgeting to project management. The software's organized and secure team platform provides more than just the ability to message coworkers. From documenting important business decisions or project milestones to posting daily status updates, to hosting shared files, Slack is an incredible resource for leaders.
Another technological resource that provides a major benefit to remote managers and employees is the Meeting Owl. It is a 360-degree video conferencing camera equipped with integrated audio and speaker systems. Forward-thinking businesses have adopted this smart webcam paired with video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Webex as a substitute for in-person interaction to host meetings or daily stand-ups.
Hosting meetings, communicating, and staying connected across different locations allows managers to have the flexibility that their remote direct reports have while still giving them the ability to keep up with the day-to-day needs of their team.
Named for the ability to be "read in five minutes, written in fifteen minutes," the 5-15 report methodology is another instrument in the manager's toolbox when it comes to remote work policies. This report is intended for employees to provide a weekly summary of accomplishments, priorities, challenges, or roadblocks and lessons learned from their supervisor.
5-15 reports can simplify the management process and be especially useful for managers who have to keep track of multiple employees across different locations. This method has the added benefit of encouraging employees to become introspective and focused on their work. Try setting a reminder in Slack for you or your team to keep up with your 5-15s on Monday or Tuesday morning.
Human psychology causes some managers to become overly anxious or involved regarding their employees, and these feelings may only be enhanced when workers are not present in the office. However, micromanaging or monitoring every detail is most likely to end up in resentment from direct reports.
The vast majority of employees are talented individuals that desire a job that will be offer challenges and the opportunity to contribute. Honing those desires instead of harping on every last detail is a sign of a strong leader.
Employers can save thousands of dollars a month from reducing office space and increasing productivity or job satisfaction for many employees. 90% of employees who work remote plan to do so indefinitely and are overall happier than those without the option.
Different individuals may have different needs as well, so allowing certain employees to work a split week in the office and at home may be a strong alternative to a full remote position. Nearly all team members will appreciate the flexibility to work a day every few months remotely as well.
An effective remote manager must always be able to talk openly and keep employees informed across all levels. Expectations for work performance, corporate policies, and communication should be set prior to any remote arrangement so that both parties will start with a clear understanding of each other. Workplace culture can vary widely between industries, companies, and office regions.
For example, a manager in New York may have to experience the culture shock firsthand of having to supervise a remote worker from the Midwest. Corporate policies regarding sick days, time-off, or shortened business hours such as "Summer Fridays" should be openly discussed.
While some organizations can be rigid regarding such policies, a manager may want to be more flexible if a remote employee from a northern state has lost their Wi-Fi from a blizzard even though the Miami home office is a subtropical haven. Both the manager and employee should have a clear understanding of mutual expectations.
For every positive workplace environment, employees should feel comfortable receiving criticism from their bosses. In order to create that environment, a great manager must learn to both give and receive feedback from their direct reports.
While these management skills are applicable to any business relationship, they are again amplified by a remote work arrangement. Since it can be challenging to stay on the same page in these situations, a manager that knows how to listen to his or her employees is extremely wise.
One way to show your remote employees that you are open to feedback is to directly ask for it. By allowing your direct report to see that you are actively seeking feedback, then following up by validating and incorporating it, this will allow for an open dialogue and eliminate frustrations that may not be seen in the day-to-day. A feedback-friendly remote culture is essential to employee happiness and satisfaction.
Finally, managers should also keep in mind that some form of in-person interaction is instrumental for a successful business relationship to thrive. All things considered, managers should strive to meet at least once per quarter with all remote employees. Doing so will preserve a strong relationship and prevent employees from feeling disconnected or discouraged.