7 Lessons Learned from Managing Remote Talent

How to most efficiently work with remote talent is a question that daunts most experienced managers. After all, managers can’t monitor work on the go, there is is no one-on-one interaction; the employee is not immersed in the culture of the organization, and there are always concerns regarding employee motivation and personal relationship building.

In spite of all of the challenges faced, most managers would largely agree on these benefits:

  • A reduction in costs associated with rentals and overheads.
  • Ability to hire the best of the best with no geographical restrictions.
  • Employee commute time, especially in smaller companies and new companies, can be more productively used to get work done.

Internationally, there is a trend in favor of remote workers:

As  per  a  research  study  undertaken  by  Nicholas  Bloom,  a  professor  of economics at Stanford University – Home-based employees work 9.5% longer and are 13% more productive than their in-office counter parts.

In another  study conducted by Staples- Of the employees who opted to work remotely, nearly  80% experienced  a  healthier  work-life  balance  and  25% lower stress levels.

A  Flex Jobs study showed that 82% of employees said they would be more loyal to a company if they worked remotely, clearly indicating an uptick in work force retention.

A robust 68% of job seekers, who fall in the millennial, clearly state that an option to work remotely would greatly increase their interest in working for a company, which  increases their interest in specific employers, according to a survey by AfterCollege.

New Managers will have to adapt to the changes in the new working environment. Having worked remotely and currently employing remote talents, I’ve learnt the skills to most effectively work with offsite employees. To help you navigate through the initial stages, here are few strategies to take into consideration when working with remote assets:

Communicate Effectively: Clearly define the task at hand. Follow up with a documented email briefing the steps to complete the assigned tasks. There are a lot of working parts within a project and your remote employee is not completely aware of all of the nuances. You may have missed out on some information, which seems small to the project, but may be crucial to the task assigned.

Choose the right mode of communication: For short and neutral updates and feedback, use an email. For long and detailed conversations use Skype. For informal conversations and general shorter discussions, use chat.

Set Milestones for Assigned Tasks: It is extremely essential to check your work at each interval, especially in the early stages. This will help you know if the employee is on the same page. This proves extremely useful in avoiding duplication of efforts. Even a small piece of missing information can ruin hours of work and productivity. It will also help you discover the missing pieces of information you need to provide to other remote workers in future.

Tasks Need to be time bound: Remote talents enjoy the autonomy of the space they live in and the ability to work on their own timetables. Hence, it is essential to give clear deadlines for finishing an assigned task. While you want to respect their independence, you want to get your work delivered in a timely manner. Good online project management tools can be very effective to manage work especially, while working with multiple remote talents. Pick the one that best works your organization and team.

Trust your employee: Most of the time managers have a tough time understanding the amount of time their resources spend on getting a job done, or about the number of productive hours they put into a day. Learn to trust your employees as long they deliver on tasks.

Can they Function in an Independent capacity– As cost-effective as remote employees might be, not everyone can function independently. Some employees may need constant monitoring, and direction, and doing this on the phone can be a lot more taxing and exasperating. Ensure that remote workers are self-motivated and can maintain enthusiasm, dedication and productivity.

Stay Connected: Keep your talent involved in every aspect of the project. Always encourage a one-on-one interaction, engage in discussions outside of work and build a strong personal relationship.

Krupali Shah is management consultant, a board member at Ahimsa, a non- profit for stray animals and the founder of Say It All. She holds a degree in Finance, Entrepreneurship & Mathematics from the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University.

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