Αccording to the Global Workplace Analytics, 50% of the global workforce engage in telecommuting and 80-90% of all employees desire to work remote on a full time or part-time basis. With the millennials making up a significant part of the workforce, working from home seems to be the most effective way of luring this job group into attractive positions.
More companies have adopted the practice over the last five or so years, citing that employees are more productive and can attain a healthy work-life balance. Additionally, employees are more loyal to their company and more willing to work overtime. The practice requires managers to use effective monitoring strategies that ensure workers remain as productive if they commuted to the traditional office. Managers face different challenges when managing remote employees.
The Challenges of Managing Remote Employees
Working with remote teams means that managers need to monitor employees working from various time zones. If the employees are working from the same geographical region, then management is a little easier as you only need to set clear expectations regarding the number of hours worked and the specific goals that should be met. However, remote employees working in different places around the globe make coordination difficult, and managers face the following issues:
1. Communication Problems
Communication is the most important component of managing remote teams effectively. Lack of communication stifles relationships between employees and managers and among employees. Essential updates concerning work in progress also become difficult and can cause the employees to feel isolated.
2. Cultural Barriers
It is a common problem for employers managing multiple locations, e.g. in different countries. Cultural divides impact how the manager interacts with the employees, define success, and prioritize tasks. Managers should learn how to overcome such differences to optimize the productivity of the remote global team.
3. Data Management Problems
Data security has been a crucial subject for most companies. Traditional work settings put up policies, protocols, and procedures that ensure data remains safe. The scenario is rather different for remote employees as they face different data security risks when working at home or in shared spaces. Managers are compelled to set up unique security procedures like check-in protocols and train employees on essential information security measures when working remotely.
4. Difficulties in Monitoring Employee Performance
Some employees thrive better when supervised while others are more independent. When managing a global team, you need to ensure all the employees meet the desired objectives effectively and on time. You can make a schedule where the employees turn in their assignments at a particular time. This way, the manager monitors the employee’s performance and keeps an eye on those experiencing problems in their work.
The Lack of a Cohesive Organizational Culture
Most remote employees say that the lack of interaction with other employees creates a disconnect from the existing organizational culture. It is more difficult to implement the culture when managing remote employees who work across the globe. Employees feel isolated, dissatisfied, and lonely, which is often associated with lower retention and reliability. This lack of cohesiveness also causes employees to move to look for better opportunities that create communities for employees to interact. So, how do you overcome this challenge?
1. Implement Effective Communication Strategies
Remote employment offers fewer opportunities for managers to hold face-to-face ad hoc contact with their teams. It is important to reach out by creating formal structures that will help keep you in touch with your employees. Regular Skype meetings and conference calls are examples of effective communication strategies that make your presence felt. Other managers use communications tools like:
- Chat programs: they allow employees to communicate among themselves and with managers.
- Collaboration tools: most companies use Google Drive as it enables users to work on the same document at the same time.
- Screen sharing tools: it allows users to view each other’s screens, collaborate creatively, and deal with arising problems collectively.
2. Staff Scheduling
It is an essential organization tool when managing teams in different locations. The manager can use app-based online systems that make the task easier while sending notifications and making instant adjustments and reminders directly to the employees’ mobile devices.
Most managers tend to perform all the tasks alone, which takes a toll on their productivity. Delegating some of the duties to a shift supervisor or manager who reports directly to them makes the team feel more involved and relieves the pressure associated with the day-to-day management.
4. Setting Up Effective Data Center Management Systems
Working with remote teams also compels organizations to set up effective data management systems. Most telecommuters transfer files between their personal computers and work when working remotely, putting the company’s data at risk of security breach and cybercrime, not to mention the money spent on data recovery. It explains why companies set up their in-house IT departments.
However, setting up and operating the centers requires a significant amount of money and space. What’s more is that the rapid advancement in technology makes whatever method that the company adopts obsolete within a short period. Colocation has become a viable option for companies with remote teams, as well as those utilizing the traditional work set up. The company engages a service provider who takes care of IT solutions like internet connectivity and security, among other issues.
How colocation works are by providing a low-cost server strategy for managing data for remote employees. Instead of setting up an in-house IT department to maintain the company’s data management systems, it hires out its physical server to a hosting company’s data center.
How do you manage remote employees? Do share in the comment section and subscribe to the blog to receive exclusive information.