Have you ever stopped for a minute to think if you are you taking a short-sighted approach to productivity? If you haven’t, don’t fret. Most employers have a misconstrued idea about productivity, which is why managing a remote workforce seems almost impossible for them.
As a matter of fact, many of the largest companies – set in traditional ways – still believe that the only way to achieve productivity is to have employees physically present – but mentally absent – 9 to 5. As a result, these companies end up hiring controlling managers, rather than inspiring leaders.
This lack of long-term vision leads them to push their employees over the edge with old-fashioned work practices that have become completely obsolete in today’s work environment.
Read on to learn more about the work practices that are considered “archaic” by the new generations, and be on top of your leadership game with these effective remote workforce management strategies.
How Did Remote Work Start?
The remote work trend dates back to the Industrial Revolution.
However, working remotely as we know it these days, didn’t start until 1973, when Jack Nilles, a physicist who worked remotely on a Nasa communication system, published “The Telecommunications-Transportation Tradeoff”— Nilles is now regarded as the father of remote work.
IBM was a pioneer in remote work. In 1979, five of its employees were allowed to work from home as an experiment; and by 1983, over two thousand employees were working remotely.
Take a look at this infographic by toptal.com to learn more about the historic moments which catalyzed the remote work revolution.
Over a decade ago, digital technologies and online activity fostered the boom in self-employment, empowering young leaders to start their own businesses.
This independency led entrepreneurs to try and test different ways to create flexible and safe work practices that would allow them to meet their business’ goals without having to compromise their creativity; and what’s most important their mental and physical health.
Work Practices That Could Be Hurting Your Business
Overly anxious and controlling managers do not have great success among the new generations. A few decades ago, imposing managers were seen as a “vital necessity” in the workplace. It was believed that employees were not capable of getting their job done without the supervision of an intimidating manager yelling orders at them.
For this reason, they were somewhat “respected” by their staff and backed up by superiors to the point where they would get their way with the “do-as-you-are-told” approach.
While this remote workforce managing strategy may bring short-term results, talented employees will become disengaged and head for the first opportunity available to them, and the silent-acceptant ones will remain feeling frustrated and undervalued.
For obvious reasons, this abuse of authority is losing popularity and the companies that oppose to root out this inflexible approach end up losing tons of money in employee rotation.
Today’s generations are drawn to organizations that promote freedom-centered leadership. These types of organizations are all about collaboration, participation, and self-organization. Many “old-fashioned” companies might see these approaches as “useless and time-consuming,” yet, big players like Google strive to attract and retain top talent by designing strategies to keep their employees happy.
While it is true that you have to make sure that your company’s needs are met, there must be a healthy balance of professionalism and productivity on your employee’s work schedule. Finding ways to reduce employee burnout should be placed in your top priorities; therefore, organization is key. At the end of the day, your employees’ performance will be a reflection of your management skills.
Benefits of Remote Workforce
Whether we like it or not, more and more people are seeking for job opportunities that allow them to work remotely. A recent study suggests that some of the top reasons why people choose to work remotely include:
- better work-life balance (91%);
- increased productivity/better focus (79%);
- less stress (78%);
- and avoiding a commute (78%).
“Just in the US, 34% of workers mentioned they would take a pay cut of up to 5% in order to work remotely.”OWL Labs
But why should companies consider managing a remote workforce?
- Productivity. Believe it or not, most people are able to get the work done more efficiently when they don’t need to commute to work. Think about it, the single fact of getting ready in the morning takes thirty minutes to an hour, for most people, let alone morning traffic. The stress associated with traveling to work is real. By the time your employees get to the office, their energy level is already depleted.
- Reduction in Costs. You will see a significant reduction in your real estate expenses if you only have vital staffers on site. Imagine all the money you will save on computers, phones, electricity, and other necessities that keep an office running.
- Talent Pool Growth. You will have the freedom to hire people from other locations and diverse cultural backgrounds. Also, having the opportunity to operate in different time zones will make your business more competitive.
- Reduce Absenteeism. Having a motivated workforce translates into higher productivity and professional engagement.
3 Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce
It is proven that remote workers feel committed to go the extra mile when invested with trust and support. Tech giants like Dell, Apple, and even Amazon are betting on remote work by opening positions such as “At Home Team Manager,” “Senior Manager of Workforce Operations,” and “Sales Support Administrator” – among many others.
Start managing your workforce remotely with these useful tips:
1. Learn to Trust.
Managing a remote workforce doesn’t give you the right to keep tabs on your employees’ movements – this is not very leaderlike.
Here’s where reverse psychology should come into play:
- Show your employees what you expect from them since day one.
- Gain their respect with actions and not only words. (If they see you working hard, they will want to mirror your actions because they admire you.)
- No one responds well to Micromanagement; so, let them know you trust them by giving them the chance to show you what they are capable of.
2. Be Available.
Technology is a great tool: use it. Manage your projects and be in touch with your people through these effective remote managing strategies:
- Slack: This user-friendly platform allows you to message your coworkers, post daily updates, share files, set reminders, and create different channels to keep your teams organized.
- Zoom, Google Hangouts, Webex: Host meetings or weekly scrums via these video-conferencing platforms from any part of the world. Also, don’t forget to take some time to make small talk with your team. This will help you build rapport with them, and it’s always a great ice-breaker.
3. Be Open to Feedback.
Aside from creating a positive work environment for your team, as a leader managing a remote workforce, you should be able to receive feedback from your coworkers.
You must see it as an opportunity for growth rather than being a direct attack on your performance.
Remember that communication is key. Foster a culture of open communication by organizing monthly one-on-one meetings with your team, and use them as a tool for personal and professional development – for both parties.
Preparing Your Organization for Today’s Work Environment
The truth is that, nowadays, remote work is becoming many companies’ reality.
Just because your workforce is not physically present doesn’t mean it is “less-manageable”.
See managing a remote workforce as a great opportunity not only to develop and enhance your leadership skills but to reduce costs while being competitive. For what it’s worth, having a pool of talented, happy, and diverse people will make your business run like a well-oiled machine.