Tracking remote workers is a dicey matter – workable hours are difficult to manage when staff is physically elsewhere. Sometimes workers forget to “stop the clock” or lose sight of project goals.
If you’re an employer with a team of remote workers, you know that a successful working landscape thrives when there is a healthy balance of accountability and trust. How do you ensure your remote workers are performing at their highest level when you aren’t in their physical location? Thanks to innovative web developers – there is a broad variety of online services and effective management techniques developed specifically for remote workplaces.
There are two schools of thought in remote management: analog and digital.
“Analog” management requires you to build steady and consistent rapport with remote teams by scheduling conferences and one-on-one meetings, group messages, and continually inspiring camaraderie.
“Digital” management is a bit more expensive, but time-saving compared to its counterpart. This includes applications that monitor and track your team’s desktop and time spent working on a project.
Approach #1: “Analog” Management
This style functions best when you understand the foundation of managing your team. This requires that you build close working relationships with your employees to get a sense of who they are, how they work and what motivates them. Reach out to them to ensure goals are read correctly, and arrange personal meetings if they need to get back on track.
Schedule virtual meetings over video calls.
Email correspondence can become overwhelming with a large remote team. It may seem easier to send a mass email outlining everything that needs to get done, but in some cases, it misfires. If there’s a sudden shift in workload that day, or a pending deadline — an email will not fully convey the urgency and may not reach your team in time.
Get everyone on board by arranging group video chats. Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts – these apps are free, easy to use, and indispensable in managing your remote team. First have everyone introduce themselves and their role. This will give everyone a sense of who their team is and how their skills and expertise will contribute to each project.
After proper introductions, schedule weekly virtual meetings to go over upcoming projects and deadlines. This is the perfect opportunity for employees to present any challenges they’ve encountered and update the team on progress. A one hour video call can cut several hours of email correspondence.
Conducting meetings through video chats gathers the team together and establishes deadlines, expectations, foresights and hindsights. When it comes time to wrap up the meeting – how do you ensure employees will carry out project goals?
Build rapport with every member of your team. It is a critical, as it forms trust and accountability. Think of these two as gears in a clock, without them you risk getting gridlocked, without movement, time moves on and work piles up.
Take time to schedule individual video calls for friendly chit-chat – become a familiar face! Get to know each team member, his/her dreams, how he/she spends time outside of work, family life, traditions, etc. Write these things down, ask them how their personal goals are going – track milestones! When you follow through with these personal questions, the virtual cubicle walls disappear. You can cultivate closer relationships than you ever thought possible.
When you build a genuine relationship with your employees, it demonstrates the value of each employee’s commitment and hard work to you. “Working for the big guy” becomes “working for a common goal.”
Approach #2: “Digital” Management
While analog management techniques promote accountability and motivate employees, sometimes this hands-on approach requires too much time. If you wish to moderate your employees by monitoring their work real-time, digital management is your best bet. Track progress and watch your employees screens (and faces!) with these web tools.
Beginning with a less-than-heavy approach to monitoring remote employees – there is MySammy, a simple application that uses bar graphs to show employee time spent on a project.
So, if you tell Sally that she has an approaching deadline and the bar graph is mostly red – you can figure out she’s on Facebook, Reddit, or any other site you categorize as unproductive. MySammy gives you the option to mark productive apps and websites as “go” – Excel and Word, while Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are “no.” You can rearrange what goes in the “no” and “go” pile for certain employees – comes in handy for social media managers.
MySammy is the app of balance. A few red bars here and there are forgivable, as long as work is being done for the majority of the time.
Now, for the heavy-handed approach. If you fear your employees have gone rogue – browsing social media sites, abandoning work projects to shop on Amazon and watch Netflix – there is a solution. Worksnaps is a virtual office manager that moseys around the cubicles, keeps a watchful eye on the break room and employee’s computer screens, always making sure work hours aren’t lost by idle chit-chat. You know the type.
Worksnaps is an online tool that can take screenshots of your employee’s screen every 10 minutes and even logs keyboard strokes and mouse movement. (Just like a virtual office manager!) A quick desktop download will allow you to manage your entire remote team and their productivity, creating reliable data for accountability and progress reports.
Worksnaps also consolidates the applications used during each employee’s session – so you can see how long an employee took to punch in numbers on Excel, or editing a report.
Whether you prefer digital or analog management, the choice depends on various factors – your personal management style, how big your team is and workload.
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