Managing a remote workforce is no easy feat, yet it’s something that many more business owners are being forced to contend with today than ever before. The nature of the modern economy, inundated as it is with digital technology, means that remote workforces aren’t just alluring but are oftentimes necessary. Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs, small business owner, and corporate professionals have driven themselves mad trying to manage a workforce that’s simply out of their reach – literally.
Here are five tips to keep in mind for managing a remote workforce, and what kind of leader you’ll need to be to keep your far-away employees faithful and productive.
1. Equip them with the tools to succeed
A remote workforce can only achieve success if the workers have the right tools at their disposal. While many ignorant business owners view remote workforces as a way to cut back on the costs of doing business and avoid investing in their workers, the reality of the situation is that you have to spend money to make money. This means equipping your remote workforce with the digital tech they need to stay in constant contact with you, which often means going beyond mere desktops or laptops.
Knowing what office equipment to give to remote workers begins with the understanding they can’t make miracles happen by snapping their fingers – if you want to talk to them, they’ll need phones. If you need to host a video conference, they’ll need computers or tablets capable of joining in. Sometimes, however, you can just skip the process of selecting the tech and give your remote workforce a “technology stipend,” or a fixed sum of cash that they can spend as they please on the tech that they feel they need the most.
2. Keep happiness in the equation
Many business owners want to experiment with a remote workforce because they think it simplifies the business equation, but there are certain things you should always be keeping in mind regardless of how your workforce is composed. Remote workers oftentimes report lower levels of job satisfaction than their more traditional peers, for instance, which is often a result of lackluster communication schemes and an inability to convey their ideas to a distant boss. Understanding how to bridge the happiness gap with the help of technology is something every business owner should come to appreciate before trying to assemble a remote workforce.
3. You have to find the right workers
More so than even a traditional office setup, remote workforces necessitate that the people calling the shots work tirelessly to find the right candidates for the job. If you don’t have a stellar team of remote workers using a low-cost VPN, who are capable self-starters, you’ll effectively be breathing over their shoulders and making corrections constantly, which effectively mitigates the point of a remote workforce in the first place.
Countless simple mistakes continue to beset the hiring process for remote workforces, though, and many entrepreneurs don’t really know what special skills a remote worker should come equipped with. Reviewing some common mistakes managers make when onboarding new members to a remote workforce is a surefire way to avoid suffering from such mistakes yourself.
4. Bridge the social gap
Another conundrum of a remote workforce is the social gap that often exists between the boss and his or her remote workers. When your employees are stationed far away from you or are working at home, for instance, it can be immensely challenging for you to communicate or bond in a normal, human way. Staring at one another through a screen, the remote worker and boss begin to view one another as nothing more than an extension of their work-related equipment. Bridging the social gap and becoming connected with your workers is an essential part of having a remote workforce that’s actually productive and committed to your brand’s long-term success.
Forging an emotional connection with your remote workers that resonates even at long-distance is perhaps one of the most important elements of a remote workforce manager’s job. You don’t have to get too sappy, but if you don’t show your workers some love and attention you shouldn’t be surprised when they drift away from you.
5. Don’t treat remote workers like they’re expendable
Finally, you need to understand that your workers aren’t expendable just because they’re remote. If you fool yourself into thinking you can mistreat your far-away workers, you’ll quickly stumble into inefficiency and perhaps even a lawsuit. Paying your remote workforce an adequate wage, equipping them with benefits to keep them healthy, and seeing to their personal needs is just as essential as doing all of these things for a “traditional” workforce. After coming to know and respect them, you may even discover that your remote workforce is an even more vital element of your team than you previously imagined possible.
Managing a remote workforce successfully necessitates a leader who isn’t themselves remote and unengaged from the rest of the team. Despite the distance between you and your employees, you need to forge a close bond that ties you together through thick and thin alike. Don’t skimp out when it comes to buying them the right tools for the job, and certainly don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re just cogs in a machine. As long as you treat your remote workforce like they’re real members of your team, you’ll soon discover that managing your distant employees has become easier than ever before.