work from home

Managing Distant Employees

Helpful advice for dealing with your remote workforce.

The efficient supervision of off-site employees who work from home is a challenging task for managers. 

In order to manage successfully at a distance without becoming a guard, supervisors should possess new skillsets and a willingness to rethink traditional approaches to management. 

A thoughtful leader is the key to the effective operation of this type of firm. This is a new task for the business world and managers should anticipate some trial and error. 

Some employees’ personalities don’t allow them to work from home. They feel isolated, lack desired networking, and will not work effectively as they need an office environment, where the atmosphere helps them work and feel better. Then again, others look for an opportunity to work from home, where they feel less stressed, happier and are more productive. The manager’s task is to form teams that will work productively off-site while leaving “the other half” in the office. Look at it as a sort of yin and yang of business that represents opposite sides of the same company that perform together fruitfully and form a whole that promotes the interests of the enterprise. 

Managing distant employees requires business leaders to build trust. Being truthful, supportive, consistent and transparent are the keys to establishing trust. It’s hard work, but it’s vital and rewarding. Boosting engagement by motivating off-site staffers also builds a sense of responsibility. They’ll feel it and when people feel trusted, they’ll trust back, especially those who know they are unseen. 

Communications are indispensable tools in managing remote employees. Managers need to be unambiguous about what they are expected to produce by detailing the requirements, deadlines and responsibilities. 

Daily engagement of remote workers is also vital. Modern technology gives managers the opportunity to create a strategy that takes advantage of many platforms to communicate and plan regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings. The underlying key here is frequent conversations that promote regular engagement which, in turn, creates a buy-in. 

Staying focused on goals, not actions, is one more useful key with which to supervise distant workers. It’s important to manage expectations and remain focused on goals when creating a remote workforce. The accent should be on accomplishments, not activities. 

Wellness shouldn’t be overlooked. Encouraging distant workers to take a daily walk or 10-minute isometric exercise will help keep them healthy and energetic.  

Work-life balance is significant today and many people would like to change office jobs for remote arrangements. Proactive leaders should provide employees with a chance to work off-site if they want to have great workers. This is not a perk any longer, but rather a sign of a thoughtful leader and great company.

About the Author 

Oksana Dlaboha is an HR specialist and owner of “HRTieBreaker.” Previously, she worked at the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the HR Section. 

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