4 Challenges Of Managing Remote Employees (And How To Overcome Them)

May 28, 2020 Amanda Krebs

challenges of managing remote employees

Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office, discussing ways to adapt, and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post 16 of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.

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For employers today, managing your workforce has become increasingly challenging as many offices move to some form of remote working. This is a major shift for businesses, many of whom often rely on that face-to-face interaction with staff to ensure productivity and positive results.

While you and your employees may be struggling to adapt to a “new normal,” keep in mind that it is possible to navigate. Here are four of the most common challenges of managing remote employees—and how you can overcome them:

Challenge #1: Tracking employee productivity

Most employers share one major concern about remote working: Can I trust my employees to do their job from home? While the concern is understandable, employers may be shocked to learn that this is largely unfounded. In fact, a 2-year Stanford study found that productivity actually increases when employees work from home.

Consider the factors: employees no longer need to spend time commuting to the office, meeting and chatting with colleagues throughout the day, and getting distracted by their office environment. This allows for more uninterrupted time to simply do their work.

With this understanding, employers should lead with trust; assume that your employees are working their hardest to be productive on the clock, and address issues from there. To establish guidelines for accountability and track progress, consider the following ideas:

  • Daily standup: Consider scheduling a daily call with your team, where you can discuss top priorities for the day and get a recap of what employees accomplished the day before. This simple tool can take only 15 minutes, and it keeps everyone on track.
  • Task management platform: Utilize a task management platform to view each employee’s tasks and priorities as-needed. So long as your team successfully updates their tasks, you can get a great view of not only what is getting done, but how quickly your staff is working. 

Challenge #2: Team morale and culture

There is no doubt that company culture can suffer under a work from home policy. Regardless of how much time it may take up when employees chat with each other at the office, that communication and camaraderie is important, and it can affect your employees’ morale.

However, this doesn’t mean that your company culture is doomed without an office space. There are still ways in which you can help your staff create stronger bonds with each other from the comfort of their own homes. These two tools are top strategies from employers today:

  • Video calls: While you may not be able to greet each other face-to-face, video calls can at least replicate an in-person meeting, allowing you to see your team members and read nonverbal cues. In addition to being a critical communication tool, video calls can be an easy way to have fun! Today, many teams are using Zoom’s virtual backgrounds and whiteboard tools to have more fun with their teams rather than simply conducting meetings.
  • Messenger platforms: Once again, the standard communication tools used for managing remote employees can be utilized for fun purposes as well! You can create a communication channel just for chatter, recipes, or animated gifs. With this dedicated space to have fun with one another, your team will feel less alone while they work from home.

Read also: 6 Virtual Team Building Activities To Boost Morale 

Challenge #3: Balancing work and home

One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that the line between work and home can get blurred for some employees. This is particularly true for working parents who may even have children at home during the day. While employers may struggle with how to handle conflicting responsibilities, once again, it is important to start with trust.

When your employees may have a lot going on at home, it is important that you work together to find a solution and move forward. As an employer, ensure that you’re approaching the situation with:

  • Flexibility: For parents in particular, there will simply be times when employees must address the needs of their home responsibilities. As a result, employers should remain flexible with their staff regarding the hours they work. When you shift from a focus on hours to a focus on results, you’ll find that your employees will figure out how to get their work done and take care of family responsibilities on their own time.
  • Communication: When there are conflicting work and home responsibilities, be sure to encourage frequent and open communication. This will continue to build trust with your employees and ensure that work will still be completed.

Challenge #4: Hiring and training new employees

Even if you and your team are thriving in a work from home environment, the idea of hiring new staff remotely may be intimidating. However, keep in mind that remote work is hardly new, and technology today can make up for a lot. When you’re hiring and training in a remote environment, consider these two techniques to ensure success:

  • Video technology: During the hiring process, utilizing video conferencing can be a satisfactory substitute for an in-person interview. While not exactly the same, you can still evaluate a candidate on their timeliness, attire, and ability to explain their experience and value to your company.
  • Frequent check-ins: Once you’ve hired a new employee, the biggest challenge may be onboarding and training your new hire. While there is no one right way to approach it, one strategy that will help guarantee success is to establish frequent check-ins. Especially as an employee is learning, be sure that they have a dedicated time to ask questions, receive feedback, and establish priorities. Read also: How To Create A Virtual Employee Training Program

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