Managing remote employees

Remote work is quickly becoming the new norm, whether it's a hybrid approach or entirely at home, and most knowledge workers are in favor of this change. While the shift to remote working models was rapidly accelerated by the pandemic and expected to be transitory, a new survey from PwC shows that 43% of business leaders plan on keeping hybrid work options. Another 30% are working to make remote work a permanent option for employees. That might sound convenient or even ideal for many knowledge workers, but for managers, it could mean up-ending your entire normal workflow.

Standard management strategies don't always translate to remote work environments, and, quite frankly, not many people have experience in this emerging trend. However, it's been two years of trial and error since the start of the pandemic, and though the learning curve was steep, business leaders are starting to understand the best practices for remote work. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you manage remote employees.

Set boundaries and expectations
Burnout is a real risk for any employee, but especially those who work from home. You shouldn't expect your team to be on-call 24/7. One of the primary benefits and advantages of remote work is its flexibility, so give your employees options and try not to send after-hour messages. One easy way to do this is by utilizing the scheduling feature for work emails.

Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication is critical to any organization, whether in-person or remote. However, dispersed teams don't have the luxury of walking across the office anytime they need to chat. As a manager, it's your job to clearly communicate all objectives to your employees. This doesn't have to be through constant video calls; a simple email or G-chat can help you keep in touch without being overbearing.

Create collaboration and team-building activities
While connected technologies have enabled us to communicate with people across the globe, remote work can be isolating when you're siloed off on independent work. Finding ways to foster collaboration among your team members can be a great way to boost morale and productivity. We all need social interactions and a sense of belonging, and collaborative team-building exercises, whether through in-person meet-ups or the internet, can be a great way to facilitate this and build a positive work culture.

Monitor performance, but don't micromanage
Monitoring employee performance is critical, but finding the balance between resisting the urge to micromanage and ensuring your team is meeting its KPIs can be challenging. By providing your employees with a schedule or having them set one themselves, you can give your workers the structure they need while setting expectations. This can help relieve some of the stress around managing workers outside of the office.

Recognize achievements and high performance
When managers only step in when something goes awry, it can create a negative environment in which employees are anxious around management. Weekly check-ins can help, but team members want to feel valued. That's why positive reinforcement is so essential. Recognizing high performance or even small achievements can go a long way in motivating your team to go that extra mile. When you make your employees feel seen and acknowledged, they'll be more engaged with the work and the company.

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