By Team Edaiva
Last Updated : Aug 13, 2023
Remote work has become exponentially more common over the past few years. With advancements in technology and shifting workplace norms, more employees are working remotely either full-time or a few days a week. By 2025, estimates predict 70% of the workforce will work remotely at least five days a month.
While remote work provides benefits like flexibility, tapping wider talent pools, and reducing overhead costs, it also poses unique management challenges. As a manager, avoiding pitfalls and keeping remote teams engaged, collaborative, and productive takes adaptability and intention.
In this blog, we’ll explore the most common challenges of managing remote employees and actionable solutions to overcome them. With the right approach, you can build a thriving remote workforce.
When employees work remotely, they miss out on the organic, in-person interactions that happen in an office - the quick conversations at the watercooler or coffee machine that build rapport and spark creativity. Replicating this remotely takes effort.
Communication issues like delayed responses, misunderstandings, and messaging fragmentation can plague remote teams. With employees in disparate locations, quick clarifications and feedback discussions are harder.
Collaborating across distance zones, tools, and schedules takes conscious coordination. Spontaneous collaboration - coworkers gathering to hash out ideas - is limited for remote employees. This can hinder innovation.
Employees can feel disconnected, leading to lowered morale and job satisfaction. Remote workers have fewer social interactions with colleagues and can struggle to feel part of the team.
Tracking assignments, managing workflows, and meeting deadlines becomes more difficult with remote employees. Monitoring progress and aligning efforts across locations requires focus.
More employees accessing company data and applications remotely increases cybersecurity risks. Raising security awareness and implementing the right tools is key.
Onboarding new remote employees is tougher without in-person interactions and hands-on mentoring. Providing training and growth opportunities at a distance takes work.
With fewer shared experiences, maintaining a cohesive company culture across remote employees can suffer. Building culture requires dedicated efforts.
The following strategies and tools can help overcome the challenges of managing a remote workforce:
Hold regular video conference calls to provide updates, address concerns, offer training, and create facetime.
Encourage instant messaging through platforms like Slack for quick information sharing.
Send out weekly recaps of company news, celebrate wins, and highlight employees.
Create centralized knowledge hubs and FAQ pages employees can reference.
Document everything to minimize confusion about policies, projects, and procedures.
Use digital whiteboards like Miro for teams to brainstorm ideas together.
Leverage file-sharing platforms like Dropbox to allow access to shared assets.
Take advantage of collaboration software like Trello to manage projects and workflows.
Schedule virtual coffee breaks for employees to socialize and get to know each other.
Bring remote staff together through online games, activities, or events.
Arrange 1-on-1 video conferences for managers to connect with direct reports.
Send out employee engagement surveys periodically to gauge morale.
Encourage peer recognition and rewards programs coworkers can participate in digitally.
Create online groups like Slack channels for hobbies, social topics, etc. to help teams bond.
Host online social events like virtual happy hours, trivia nights, etc. to humanize interactions.
Use project management software like Asana to create workflows, assign tasks, and track progress.
Conduct sprint planning sessions to set objectives and define next steps for projects.
Document business processes thoroughly so employees understand how to execute them remotely.
Implement daily standup meetings for teams to coordinate and provide status updates.
Leverage tools like Paymo to log hours and maintain accountability for productivity.
Install VPN networks for secure remote access to company systems and data.
Utilize cloud-based tools designed specifically for remote work security.
Enforce multifactor authentication policies for logins.
Establish and communicate data security guidelines for remote staff.
Limit employees' access rights to only essential systems for their role.
Assign new remote hires a mentor or buddy for guidance during onboarding.
Send welcome kits with company swag to make new hires feel part of the team.
Conduct extensive video training sessions, create how-to guides, and screenshare walkthroughs.
Record training videos new hires can reference on-demand.
Check-in frequently with new remote staff and request feedback to improve onboarding.
Host regular all-hands meetings where the whole company joins video calls to unite everyone.
Create digital spaces for employees to share user-generated content and converse.
Enable coworkers to highlight each other’s wins and hard work through online praise tools.
Maintain traditions virtually like celebrating company milestones and holidays together online.
Craft remote work policies that reflect your cultural values, like flexibility and collaboration.
Here are some top tips for mastering remote team management:
Overcommunicate - Don’t assume information reaches everyone. Continually reinforce priorities.
Spotlight remote employees’ work to make them feel valued. Achievements can get lost when not visible.
Listen closely to remote workers’ needs and concerns. Ask for their feedback often.
Coach managers of remote teams to hone skills like emotional intelligence, influence, and empathy.
Treat remote employees equally through equitable policies, development opportunities, and inclusion in events.
Invest in the best tools and tech to enable communication, productivity, and security for remote workers.
Strike the right balance between monitoring remote workers’ contributions without micromanaging their time.
Encourage remote employees to take self-care breaks to avoid burnout. Respect their personal time.
Develop contingency plans to address technical issues that may disrupt remote workers’ abilities to do their jobs.
Key takeaway: The most successful remote managers prioritize frequent communication, promote collaboration and inclusion, provide development opportunities, and leverage tools/technology to engage employees and keep information secure.
A: Make an effort to regularly connect one-on-one with remote direct reports. Arrange video calls to talk through challenges. Actively soliciting their opinions and feedback helps build trust.
A: Avoid rigid schedules but establish reasonable expectations, like core hours for meetings and general response times (ex: 24 hours). Discuss guidelines collaboratively. Offer flexibility but keep communication open.
A: Leverage project management tools to set and track deliverables transparently. Establish open communication channels. Gauge productivity based on work output and achievement of goals, not just activity metrics.
A: Flexible schedules, collaboration tools provision, equal remote participation in learning/development programs, and work from home budget/supplies allowances. Update policies to accommodate remote needs.
A: Facilitate team building through activities like virtual escape rooms. Enable social interactions through messaging channels and virtual events. Bring remote groups together often and leverage collaborative tools.
With careful planning, intentional management, and the right technology, businesses can overcome remote work challenges and build productive, engaged teams. Below are best practices every manager of a remote team should keep in mind:
Set clear objectives and processes to align remote workers
Overcommunicate to compensate for lack of in-person contact
Monitor employee engagement and morale with surveys and one-on-ones
Leverage collaboration tools and foster inclusion to enable teamwork
Provide opportunities for remote employees to socialize and connect
Onboard remote workers thoroughly with training guides and mentors
Develop policies tailored specifically to supporting remote staff
Prioritize cybersecurity measures like VPN networks and access controls
Invest in powerful hardware and software to enable seamless remote work
Strike the right balance between monitoring remote workers’ productivity and micromanaging
Keep remote workers motivated by recognizing their contributions and achievements
With the rise of remote work, adapting management strategies is crucial. By making remote employees feel valued, trusted, aligned, and supported, you can build a highly productive remote workforce for the future.