Homeless man holding job wanted sign

The Biggest Mistakes Managers Make with Remote Workforces

Managing remote workforces is a relatively new phenomenon, only entering the mainstream consciousness within the last decade or so. Naturally, with such a steep learning curve and so many key differences between remote and static workforces, managers are going to make mistakes. It’s all part of the journey to becoming a great manager, and making your remote workforce an effective and productive one.

Here are the top mistakes that managers make when they’re handling remote workforces – and how they can address them properly:

Losing the personal touch

Working with remote employees means there are many more barriers to break down if you’re to build a working relationship with that staff member. When you can’t communicate face-to-face every day in an office environment, it can take a long time for that remote worker to feel as comfortable with you as, say, a worker that you pass in the corridors or see in the canteen each day.

Focus on building those relationships at all costs. Pay attention to what your remote staff are doing and praise them whenever they achieve something, however minor. Schedule in time each week when you can make contact with each employee – make them feel valued and encourage them. You don’t need to turn every single conversation into a life-affirming chat, but checking in every now and then can work wonders.

The wrong tools

If you’re utilising the wrong tools to manage your remote workforce, you’re doing everyone a disservice. You need to ensure the software and solutions you’re using are working for all that use them – whether it’s a VoIP solution, a time and attendance solution or a cloud-based storage space. Seek feedback from your staff and always remain on top of the latest technological developments in the world of managing remote workforces.

A lack of metrics

With staff that aren’t working from a central office, you’ll need to find a way to measure their progress that doesn’t necessarily require face-to-face contact. Choose which metrics you’d like to monitor and implement it across the board, checking up on the output and ensuring all targets and deadlines are being met. You should also consider implementing the same metrics with your in-house staff – otherwise your remote workers could feel unfairly targeted.

Don’t miss the red flags

If it’s not working out with a certain member of the remote workforce, it’s likely there’ll be some signals or red flags that will alert you to it. Pay attention to them! If a worker repeatedly misses deadlines or is out of contact for hours on end, it could mean there’s either a problem with communications or a problem with the staff member. Try to meet up with them face-to-face as soon as possible to resolve the issue, or at the very least schedule in a video chat so that you can get the full picture. Instant messaging also helps in these situations – you can communicate in real-time with staff and ensure that they’re okay to continue work.