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Managing a remote workforce

Many businesses in the United Kingdom have moved to either a partially or entirely remote workforce. With more businesses adapting to remote or hybrid working, it’s important to find ways to efficiently manage working from home. As you guide your staff through telecommuting, consider the information in our guide for managing a remote workforce

In this guide, we will cover:

  • How to plan for remote work
  • Tips for keeping your business running with a remote working solution in place
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How to plan for a remote working solution

Use the following steps as a guide to help you make a plan to manage remote work:

1. Collaborate with managers and team leads

When planning for remote working, it’s important to discuss ideas and strategies with staff in leadership roles. For instance, allow team leaders and managers to brainstorm and give their input on the best tools to use, ways to keep employees engaged and when to plan for team collaboration using online methods. Additionally, encourage managers, team leads and supervisors to lead by example by promoting top-down change. For example, when senior leaders work efficiently remotely, it helps signal to other employees that they can feel comfortable doing the same.

During your brainstorm, start the conversation with questions like:

  • What communication platforms should we use to stay connected with employees?
  • Which video conferencing app is best for holding team meetings?
  • How are we going to ensure employee productivity and engagement?

2. Choose one reliable communication method for important information

Be transparent with your staff about how you manage remote work using the channel of communication most of your employees use. Foster open communication and create channels within your communication tools for employees to share information, socialise and converse with each other. Additionally, keep your tool stack simple by designating one reliable communication platform that everyone will use to stay in touch, ask questions and give feedback. With one designated tool, you can easily share and receive important information related to work in addition to the latest news updates on the outbreak.

3. Establish a remote management team

To work effectively at home, employees need direction and feedback from managers and team leaders. Identify key managers who will be responsible for leading and supporting different processes of your business so employees know who they should report to. For instance, consider establishing a management team in charge of project development, quality assurance and other processes within the workflow of your business’s operations.

Related article: 11 tips to effectively manage remote employees

4. Set up a remote resource tool (like an FAQ document)

Your employees may have questions about what to expect regarding remote work assignments and other concerns about their corporate lives. Because of this, it is important to set up an online resource, such as a FAQ page, where employees can find answers to questions related to productivity and work-life balance. For example, you can set up universal documents through an online application where employees can log in and check for updates as part of your work remote policy.

Additionally, communicate regularly with employees to learn about their concerns and suggestions and answer any questions they may have so you can add more information to the resource. Keep staff up to date on the latest news regarding your remote working policies by including links to your employee handbook or other HR policies you have in place.

5. Form a plan for communication

A remote workforce manages many communication channels and asynchronous discussions regarding their projects, so it’s important to establish a plan for regular contact. Consider instituting weekly team meetings through an online conferencing platform to stay updated on progress. Similarly, daily emails with essential updates regarding completed projects, new project developments and other tasks can help you keep employees informed.

Related Article: Trends in e-learning and development for remote workers

6. Streamline your technology and tools

Managing a remote workforce often depends on certain tools and resources to help make work processes run smoothly. Communication tools, productivity tools and project management tools are essential to maintaining consistency across the various operations of your business. It’s important, however, that you implement only the necessary tools you and your staff will need to complete tasks and stay in contact. For instance, an online word-processing application, a company-wide communication tool and a video conferencing platform may be all you need to manage your remote workforce.

Tips for keeping your business running smoothly with a remote workforce

Consider the following information for managing a remote workforce:

Provide company equipment if you can

This depends on exactly what your teams need to perform their jobs. If employees can bring home their office laptops, for example, it can be helpful if family members regularly use their home computers. Ultimately, the choice to provide office equipment to your employees can be contingent on the costs of supplying such tools in addition to what your business is able to securely send home with staff. Consider creating a remote working onboarding system on the first day of remote working. Log what equipment employees are being given to take home for work and track expensive equipment.

Interview and hire employees remotely

If you have interviews coming up or you are looking to recruit new team members, you can do it all online. Use a video conferencing platform like Skype or Zoom to conduct interviews, or you can even perform phone interviews. Consider creating a shareable document that provides new employees with business information such as employee handbooks and other important documents. Additionally, if you have forms that require employee signatures, you can use an application like DocuSign to send and receive confidential paperwork securely.

Related article: Phone interview questions to ask candidates

Integrate online communication tools

Set up regular check-ins to review employees’ work, answer questions and assign new tasks. Keep your teams connected through online communication platforms with file-sharing and private chat features. These tools are beneficial for organising workflow and sharing information in a remote environment and can help keep employees engaged and productive. Similarly, if you notice some employees are quiet within your communication channels, reach out individually or set up regular remote one-on-one meetings.

Support employees’ work-life balance

Designate a team lead to manage small groups of employees while working remotely. These leaders can act as mentors to provide professional support and a source of friendly advice that helps encourage employees to make clear boundaries between working times and leisure times. Similarly, team leaders can offer moral support to encourage employees to find a quiet, distraction-free space that they designate as their workspace. At the end of each workday, team leaders can catch up with their teams to check on progress and ensure employees aren’t overworking. Finally, consider ways to include remote workers in some ‘coffee break’ activities. Plug-ins like Netflix Party allow users to watch movies together. Use video conferencing to designate time to eat lunch together or have daily conversations with the video turned on.

Use and share available government resources regarding remote and flexible working

The GOV.UK website provides guidance for employers and businesses, regarding hybrid and distance working. You can also check the ONS website for predictions on whether hybrid working is here to stay or not.

Essentially, managing a remote workforce requires full support from leaders and staff to ensure the smoothest running possible. Keep employees engaged and provide moral support to help them work remotely efficiently.

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