As a remote manager, your employees want to feel like you’ve got their backs and can provide the guidance they need. You need to find ways to keep lines of communication open and ensure employees feel productive and valued. But getting remote workers on-board can be tough: it takes time for remote workers to really get into sync with an organization’s culture and workflow, and the commitment required isn’t always what it seems at first glance.
In fact, there are a number of challenges for remote managers. Here’s what we think are the top 5:
#1: Managing Expectations
Obviously, a key challenge in leading remote workers is ensuring that you’re setting realistic goals for your employees. Oftentimes, managers have unrealistic expectations on a collaboration-based project (especially where milestone dates and clear deliverables are needed). You also need to make sure both you and your team spend adequate time defining their roles and reaching a common understanding of what needs to be done. We also suggest establishing clear expectations for interaction and collaboration as it relates to meeting face-to-face.
#2: Dealing with Disconnects
You can’t be in two places at once, so it’s easy to set up distractions while you’re trying to manage a remote worker. That said, it can be hard to manage team projects when your workers are going offline or getting distracted on a regular basis. You know that they should be working, but they need constant supervision and support to stay on task. In this case, you have to be proactive with notifications, and make sure your remote employee knows what’s expected of them before they start working on a given project.
#3: Managing Your Team’s Expectations
The employees under your purview (both those in the office, and those who are working remotely) now expect consistent support and guidance from you. You need to set clear expectations for when they should be available, what kind messages will be sent to them via email/phone/Facebook status updates etc., as well as how they can best work with you. In case they don’t understand something, you need to be proactive with regular check-ins.
#4: Creating the Right Culture and Environment
You have to establish clear expectations and guidelines related to how work will be handled between team members, and make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them. If you want your company to be as productive as possible, you also need to make sure your employees are comfortable with what they do every day because that can influence their commitment levels in the long run.
#5: Providing Training and Support
Although remote employees feel more than capable of working independently, take the time to teach them how to use professional communication tools such as email and messaging services like Slack. This will help them to maintain better lines of communication, and they’ll have tools they can use to get the information they need in a more timely manner. Encourage peer-to-peer training and provide an online resource where your team can go to get more information.
Of course, remote working isn’t for everyone. It comes with its own unique challenges and advantages. It’s important to remember that there are plenty of issues you can face while managing a remote team, and that there are ways to overcome them.