Overcoming the challenge of managing remote employees

One of the ways in which the workplace has been fundamentally altered by the pandemic is that remote work has become an accepted and important part of it. Earlier experiments, in hindsight, seemed to have been done half-heartedly, or with a pre-decided outcome that it would not work. The pandemic separated the grain from the chaff once and for all.

Challenges with remote work

The acceptance of remote work does not imply that there are no challenges with it. Far from it. With the spread of teams across the globe rising, managing people has not become any easier. HR specialists have been working overtime to identify and address these issues.

Many roles cannot be defined in terms of output and are done on a best-effort basis. They require commitment from the individual and some amount of oversight from the supervisor that prevents people from straying. The inability to oversee employees limits effectiveness in case of such roles that are usually measured in terms of manhours.

Communication and engagement clearly take a beating. A video-screen based engagement might be adequate for conveying and receiving work related messages, but falls short when it comes to developing relationships between people and giving them a stake in each other’s success and failure.

Perhaps a direct fallout of this lack of interpersonal connect is the feeling of alienation amongst employees. This could reflect itself in the quality of work being delivered as well as a higher level of employee attrition. Moreover, the best employees will leave first because they now have a global marketplace to play in.

Essentially, the glue of company culture that binds companies together becomes weak and ineffective.

Innovative solutions for remote work

Employers continue to find innovative solutions for remote work:

Expectation setting

It becomes even more important to set the right expectations at the time of hiring, as frequent resetting, possible in a physical environment, is not possible in a remote one. This includes even standard work-related documentation such as job descriptions and KPIs.

Continuous engagement

While it is understood that physical oversight may not be possible, the management team has to ensure that it does not translate to low or no engagement. ‘It can only be done virtually’ might be a limitation, but ensuring it is done goes a long way in breaking barriers.

Deploying the right tool

Digital technology is stepping into many of the gaps created by remote work and removing them or making them smaller. Using the right tools for the nature of work handled can be instrumental in achieving success at the workplace which, itself, can be a binding factor. Some useful tools:

Slack – Collaboration and informal communication is encouraged. Possible to connect directly or in groups.

Trello – Effective for collaborating over projects, with the ability to share work.

ClickUp – Though a project management tool primarily, it lends itself to customization and hence, is able to meet the needs of a diverse set of organizations.

Field Engineer – Though there are many platforms that connect freelancers with people and companies that need them, FieldEngineer stands out as a versatile tool.

Harvest – Timesheets assume greater importance in a remote workplace, since physical oversight is no longer possible. Harvest simplifies timesheets. .

Engage experienced staffing firms

Staffing firms, like Ushankk, have been working with remote, distributed employees even before Covid-19 struck, and doing so for years, perhaps decades. Not just across multiple locations but also multiple companies, simultaneously.

They continue to provide solutions for remote work that are popular with employers of scale. Engaging them might be the most direct way of addressing remote work-related issues.

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