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How to Manage a Remote Workforce Successfully

When jobs and offices are closed throughout the company as a precaution or as a result of a government order, companies may be able to organize work from home to ensure continuity of service, maintain productivity, preserve jobs, while ensuring the safety of employees’ health. Both employers and employees need to be practical, flexible, and understand each other’s position when implementing a home-based arrangement.

How to manage and motivate a remote workforce

Once a telecommuting contract is made, managers play the most important role. It is very important that the company’s management defines clear goals, measurable productivity parameters, and precise dynamics of communication with the employee who works outside the office space. Then his absence will not be a ‘’handicap’’ for the company. When team members are physically dislocated, then the only thing that is visible is the result. Whether someone is proactive or reactive is not clear. It is not clear whether someone is careful or careless in their work. Whether someone is fast or slow, it is not clear. But the results are visible. One of the biggest concerns of managers is whether it is possible to maintain a team even though they are not together in the office. They will still rely on the same tools that everyone uses, but sometimes it is easier to approach a colleague and talk about a project than to write long emails or messages.

Challenges of managing a remote workforce

Both managers and employees need to respond to every challenge when it comes to remote careers. Most companies did realize that they will have the benefits because of the remote work, but others still have some problems with it. A survey conducted in Japan showed that 96% of employees said that a remote job is important, but 31% of companies just didn’t transfer to remote jobs. The problem was that they couldn’t meet the conditions and switch to digitized paperwork.

Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also have problems with remote work, and a whole recent survey shows this. For example, the Argentine Observatory for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises found that SMEs use remote work much less than bigger companies. Such assessments can help companies systematically design workplace flexibility, striking a balance between a company’s needs and the needs of every single employee, and effectively manage a remote workforce.

When it comes to remote work, one of the top challenges to the companies are: recruiting people (40%), problems with training (32%), dealing with conflicts (31%), problems with onboarding (27%), and benefits concerns (26%).

Managing remote employees

Many countries around the world have begun to legally prescribe work from home/working distance, working conditions, rights and obligations of employers and employees. For example, in the Netherlands, the Regulation on Conditions of Employment applies to paid work performed by an employee in his or her place of residence or in another place chosen by the employee outside the employer’s premises. This includes the employer’s obligation to take care of the worker and ensures that the legal obligations under the regulation are met.

In Poland, the provision of the Labor Law relating to teleworking emphasizes that the place of work is remote from the employer’s workspace and is based on services provided electronically, while in Austria teleworking is regulated by working time regulations, and not as a separate issue9. In March 2020, Chile adopted a law prescribing teleworking, guaranteeing legal security to both employers and remote employees in teleworking arrangements and specifying their rights and obligations. For example, the obligation of employers includes covering the costs of work, operation, maintenance, and repair of equipment. Sometimes the employee might need help, managing virtual assistants.

What tools are needed to manage remote staff

Based on the possibilities and needs, it is necessary to compile a list of necessary tools, a time plan, and systematization of the transformation.  As with any project, once you have defined the plan, you need to start preparing and provide any tool your remote staff need. The development of technology helped people to have better collaboration, and here are the top tools for that:

1. Zoom – According to many, this is the best option for free conference video chat with secure encryption in which up to 100 people can participate. It is available for all platforms and gives the possibility of one-on-one calls, group video calls, but you have a limit of 40 minutes, which is not such a bad option. Just perfect a conference call, right? The good side is that files can be easily shared and you can schedule appointments via Microsoft Outlook and Chrome with a lot of freedom to control the messages exchanged. You can also exchange video messages with other meeting participants, and they can be viewed later because they are not deleted automatically.

2. Google Hangouts – an app that already exists as part of other (common) Google options (on all devices), easily accessible but limited to 10 users in conference calls. The disadvantage of the mobile application is that the application does not display status messages or show you who is currently online

3. Skype – an application useful for all types of devices and all types of software environments that you can also use for chatting, the user limit in conference calls is 50. A reliable and relatively high-quality application that fulfills its purpose and it is a very good option for online appointment.

4. MS Teams – for Office 365 users, this is a bonus tool that is useful for smaller conference calls, it is of sufficient quality to conduct individual conversations with colleagues and smaller conference calls.

5. Stayhome.ai AI-powered workforce management platform to set up and manage hybrid (partly remote/partly office-based) teams. How does it work? The employees’ toggle whether they prefer to work in the office, or at home for each day in the mobile app. The manager chooses the planning period, hit the “generate” button. The algorithm will allocate the team between the office and remote work based on a deep analysis of more than 50 parameters. It uses a scoring system that weighs each parameter, ensuring the business needs and employees are always the top priority. All needed features such as time tracking, task manager, KPIs monitoring are included.

6. Slack – The platform for online communication in real-time, serves as a chat option that replaces communication by email and is very useful because, in addition to written communication in real-time, you can use it to send documents, photos, various materials; as well as to divide communication into categories, ie thematic discussions for clearer monitoring of everything. You can use it for one or more clients, segment the dashboard yourself as you see fit, and have communication with everyone in one place.

7. Google Drive – Documents, photos, videos, spreadsheets, presentations, and many more things are necessary for us every day in most of the tasks we need to perform. Google Drive is definitely one of the best options to solve these challenges. When it comes to the complexity of use, we can say here that it is over and gone. All you have to do is create a Gmail account, and you get Google Drive with a free 15 GB of storage space for various types of data. If you need more space, for 2 dollars a month you get an additional 100 GB, while for about 10 dollars a month you will get an additional 1 TB of memory.

What to avoid when you need to manage a remote workforce

As we said before, the main problem is the crowded office, but the solution is easy. What about employees? Have in mind that there will always be an employee who would not be able to multi-task. Expectation sometimes does not match with reality. Good guideline and interaction with that employee may help him to be more productive and have more ambition.

You should pay attention when it comes to remote staff and their personal life. Why is it important? 49% of employees working with each other in different time zones had a problem. Their local time didn’t match, and someone always needed to work late night hours. Believe it or not, but cultural differences between employees were a problem in 33% of cases, and language was the problem in 27% of cases. 87% of people said that the top challenge is to understand other accents, and 76% said that it was a lack of participation from all members. This is why you need to make a team in which people would easier cooperate with each other and have a better connection.

Whatever problem with how to manage a team remotely you have it can be solved without endangering the culture of work. Good attitude and communication will create a healthy community, which every employee is dreaming of.  

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