Managing a remote workforce is no easy task. Those heading up remote teams must make sure that their clients and customers are satisfied, as well as looking after a team of staff who rarely set foot into a central office, and spend most of their working day on the road. With so many balls in the air, it’s natural that there are going to be some mistakes on the way. Here are some of the most common mistakes that managers make when they’re in charge of a remote workforce – and how to avoid them.
Neglecting to build a rapport
Some managers get into the mindset that they don’t need to build working relationships with their staff, because they’ll be on the road most of the time, rather than in a central office. But this can lead to further issues – staff who spend their days travelling can feel alienated, and if there’s a problem, they might hide it rather than telling their superiors. It’s vital to build a rapport with staff, even if you barely see them face-to-face. Check in with them daily, praise them for their successes (no matter how small), and try to schedule in regular meetings to give them a chance to raise any issues or discuss potential problems.
Using the wrong tools (or no tools at all)
We’re lucky to live in such a technologically-advanced era, and there are a multitude of tools and resources out there to help manage remote workforces, whether it’s a cloud-based file-sharing system, a time and attendance solution or a messaging app that helps keep managers in touch with staff. Make sure you’re leveraging these tools to your advantage – simple pieces of software or apps can transform a tricky working situation into something altogether more manageable.
Not measuring progress
Even though staff are out there on their own, they still need performance targets and goals to help them move forwards and progress. Some remote workforce managers don’t feel the need to set their staff goals or measure their progress – but this can lead to employees becoming disengaged at work. Arrange a meeting with your remote workers and agree on a set of metrics you can measure over the long-term. This will keep your remote staff on track and give them plenty to aim for.
Not logging all processes
Make sure your staff are logging every process into a centralised system. This provides an extra layer of accountability for your remote workers, and can help you keep track of their movements and activity when they’re on-the-go. This is also a useful system if a member of staff were to fall ill mid-shift, or find themselves stuck in traffic – if their activity is logged, stand-in staff can see exactly where they’re up to and what is still left to be done.
Depending on the circumstances, daily check-ins might be excessive, but building that rapport is vital. You want your remote workforce to think of the company as “we” rather than “them,” which isn’t going to happen without that rapport. That rapport will then make it easier to do the other stuff on this list.