In the age of post-COVID more employees expect to work from home. As an employer, you might not be as competitive in this tight labor market if you do not allow employees to work from home at least some of the time. Remote workers can be just as, if not more productive than their full-time in-office counterparts, but you need to know how to manage them effectively.
I own and run a company called CRAVEBOX and I have several all-remote employees. My experience has taught me a lot and I’d like to share what I’ve learned on successfully managing remote employees.
Hire the Right People
It all starts with hiring the right people to work remotely. You need to look for a person who is organized and self-motivated. Someone’s grades in school are usually a good indicator of how effectively they work alone and manage their time without direct instructions or supervision.
Some people work better in this more independent, free environment because they are very effective at setting their own schedule, goals and working to accomplish them throughout the day. Other people prefer a more structured, managed environment where they are working near a supervisor in the office.
So, when you’re looking to hire a remote worker, you need to make sure you’re hiring the type of person who works well on their own. You could be the best manager in the world but if you hire the wrong person, it’s probably not going to work.
Train them In the Office
Through experience, I found that it’s much more effective to have your new remote worker come into the office for about 2 weeks to train in-person.
This is great for 2 reasons. Firstly, the training process requires a ton of communication since they don’t know anything about the job. It’s easier to talk, ask and answer questions, troubleshoot problems, etc if they’re right in front of you for several hours per day as opposed to doing it through zoom or over the phone. Secondly, you get to build a stronger relationship with this person. I found that 2 weeks of in-person training really allows you to get to know each other and that creates a better relationship for the long-term.
If you’ve never spent a significant amount of time with each other in-person, it’s more likely you’ll become frustrated with them at some point or they won’t care as much about you and your company. In-person bonding and connecting go a long way. It’s why sales people still make in-person meetings and visit their clients in-person.
Good relationships are an important part of a smoothly operating business.
Use Shareable Software
I use Google Drive with my remote employees. It’s inexpensive and we can easily share all the files that are relevant to their position.
One of the files we share is a “To Do” list that is updated weekly by me. This way, the employee knows the tasks they need to complete each week and they add notes to the To Do list as they complete the tasks. Other shared files are spreadsheets or text documents that keep track of jobs we’re working on. This is a great way for both of us to make changes in real-time and work on these documents together.
It’s like we’re in the same room working on the same computer and I think it’s essential to managing remote workers.
Check their Results
It is critical that you check your remote worker’s progress and results frequently. I check once per week. This is important so you can make sure they’re doing everything expected of them.
You should also have frequent performance reviews with this employee. I do quarterly performance reviews over the phone for about 1 hour. This shows them that I’m keeping track of their progress, that I appreciate the hard work they’ve been doing, and that I notice when they’re not performing as well as I’d like. It’s also a great time for me to ask how they enjoy the position and for them to ask questions. I think it’s more effective to focus on results instead of the time spent working.
A normal office employee is expected to work 9-5 but with a remote employee, I don’t keep track of how long they work or when they work. Results are what matter and how well they complete their tasks. This should be the most important metric to a business so it’s a win-win because the employee enjoys the flexibility and freedom and you enjoy the results needed to move your business forward.