Managing the Remote Employee

 When Covid-19 forced many businesses to change their standard operating procedures, the remote employee became a vital asset. Many businesses have adapted their workflow and meeting processes to accommodate for the now semi-permanent remote workers, but what about making accompanying changes to your management style?

Let’s face it — managing an in-office worker is fundamentally different from managing someone you only “see” during zoom meetings or telephone calls.

Here are some suggestions for ways to adapt your management style for remote employees:

  • Be goal-oriented, not task-oriented. Don’t worry about the amount of time spent on a task. Instead focus on the goal.
  • Be organized and ready for online meetings and telephone calls. This lets you avoid multiple interruptions to the employee’s work flow when you make additional calls to check up on issues you’ve just remembered.
  • Refrain from group emails except where necessary. Group email may sound like the perfect way of communicating about a project, but just remember that every time someone hits “reply all” it takes time for each employee to read, even if it doesn’t apply to their portion of the project.
  • Be considerate of scheduling meetings. Your remote workers, while they are at home, are now wearing many “hats,” so try scheduling your meetings (video or telephone) during times when they can focus and be wearing only your “hat.”
  • Show that you’re supportive. Don’t always make the progress status calls negative by pointing out they are behind schedule. Take time to check up on them and their well-being. Offer support to help them keep on schedule.

Several recent studies have found that remote workers are actually more productive and efficient in the use of their time, and many companies are planning to make remote employment for some employees permanent. It’s a good idea, therefore, to begin to incorporate best practices for managing remote employees now.