Managing a remote workforce is a different beast than managing teams in an office setting. Maintaining the consistency of procedures and supporting remote team leaders can be a challenge from a distance. It’s up to the company’s HR team to bring everyone together and provide the right resources for leaders and knowledge workers alike. This means reorganizing your hiring process to prep new employees for remote work, enforcing standards of quality remote work, communicating with a modern conferencing platform, and using project management software to keep projects moving.
1. Reorganize Your Hiring Process
Training an effective workforce begins with the hiring process. First and foremost, assess whether or not your hiring process needs to be changed to accommodate a remote workforce. Working remotely means potentially having access to a much wider talent pool; one that isn’t restricted by the confines of geographic location. Having worldwide talent can mean sifting through a lot of applicants. Use a hiring tool like ZipRecruiter or LinkedIn to narrow down candidate options.
Make sure interviews are conducted with video on instead of audio-only. A lot can be learned from a person’s body language, and that’s not possible to pick up from a phone call. Pay attention to how the interviewee composes themselves, speaks, and reacts to your questions.
The more streamlined, efficient, and accurate your hiring process is, the more it will pay off later. Choosing the right candidate for the job is a significant investment, and with so much talent out there, you want to be sure you’re getting the best fit.
2. The Comfort Of Working From Home
Some studies suggest that working from home is actually better for some people and businesses. Remote employees can be healthier, more productive, and can decrease your overhead business costs.
Working from home is convenient. Employees aren’t under strict oversight and have the freedom to take advantage of the comforts of their home. However, this flexibility can also be a detriment to productivity. We’ve all been tempted to go to work in our pajamas, sleep in that extra half hour, or postpone that project because our favorite show is on TV.
It’s the company’s responsibility to make sure employees are being productive at home by not only providing the right project management and communication tools, but also creating and enforcing standardized remote work practices.
A good place to start is the time work begins for everyone. Just like in an office or other workplace, have employees clock-in or check-in at a specific time. If the “office” opens at 9, make sure everyone is logged into the system by then. You can also host a short 10 to 15 minute video meeting each morning to take a tally of who’s present and align on expectations for the day.
3. Keeping Lines Of Communication Open And Accessible
There’s nothing more frustrating or detrimental to productivity than team members unable to connect and communicate. It falls on the management team to make sure everyone has the tools they need to reach leaders and executives when they need to, and this includes providing communication tools like video conferencing.
Video conferencing provides your team with everything they need to host meetings, client calls, webinars, and more. No more chasing people down via email chains that end up being hundreds of messages long, and no more wondering what the status of projects are. An online conferencing service is affordable, versatile, and helps keep communication easy for everyone.
A good practice to ensure communication is optimized and expectations are clearly spelled out is to have a weekly meeting with the team. A team that communicates well will always perform better. Good communication helps reinforce standards, provide a sense of community and support, and ensures that expectations are spelled out and understood by everyone.
4. Using Project Management Software
When everyone is working from home, there’s automatically a greater challenge with collaboration. It’s easy for team members to collaborate when they can walk over to someone’s desk, but when that luxury isn’t readily available when working remotely.
Many modern teams use project management software to help keep projects more streamlined, accessible, and efficient. Project management software helps everyone see the status of each project, their part in it, the overall expectations, and provides a platform for communication.
Today’s project management software is both affordable and effective, and there are hundreds of choices.
5. Support Leadership
Leadership is a necessary component of successful teams, but for remote teams, the importance rises significantly. Remote teams need good leaders to bring them together and help direct them toward team goals.
As your company moves to a remote work environment, you can provide training to help managers adopt any new technologies into their day-to-day work. This may include new project management, communication, performance management, or time tracking software.
Setting up weekly one-on-one’s between managers and their team members can also help managers maintain open lines of communication with their team. This way, team members and managers have dedicated face time to check in with one another and discuss any questions they may have. With an increasingly multigenerational workforce, you can also help educate managers on adopting culturally sensitive approaches to communicating respectfully with their team.
The Bottom Line
Keeping the remote workforce happy, healthy, and productive is something of a challenge in today’s business world. Ramping up your workforce means being communicative, creating a supportive and productive work environment, and bringing the right people into the fold.
Keeping things standardized can help employees stay on track, and a good leader can inspire and motivate. Don’t underestimate the power of leadership or the right tools in a remote team—they can mean the difference between productivity and lethargy.
Bio: Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing and web streaming bringing teams together to work done.