The Challenges of Managing Remote Workforces
There’s a lot to be said for in-office working. For many SMEs, the workplace has always been the centre for building, maintaining, and managing relationships. Often overlooked as an important social hub, the office provided an environment for workforces to socialise with each other. This would often lead to the formation of close friendships.
For many, it also provided a breakup of home life that may have been missing much-needed adult company, especially with employees having young children at home. As for owners, keeping near their staff meant that managing their performance, work level, and engagement was simple. If a team member had an issue, their seniors were right on hand to speak to in person.
Remote working had initially provided businesses with a host of challenges and factors to think about that many believed only in-office working could solve:
Lack of productivity
Without motivation, a clear focus, or engagement with colleagues and owners, employees may begin to procrastinate. In response, their productivity levels are reduced significantly. Procrastination can even lead to some team members completing projects they wouldn’t consider outside of working hours. For example, a deep home clean that they’ve put off for months.
Remote working is widely dependent on digital communication. Exchanging emails with your team gets the message over to an extent but points and concepts may become confused or lost without verbal communication.
Lack of focus
Similar to lack of productivity, working in the home can affect someone’s level of focus. There are plenty of distractions in the home to tempt employees and owners away from their work: Pets, children, television, etc. Attempting to complete tasks with the television on or pets barking all contribute to an employee’s inability to concentrate.
The poor mental health of managers and staff
Dealing with the mental effects of isolation away from friends, family and colleagues have been challenging for most. The lack of face-to-face contact that comes with remote working has left some managers and employees alike struggling with issues such as anxiety and even depression.
Originally, these factors posed an issue when it came to remote working. SMEs across the UK were faced with the same question – how can our business replicate the office environment remotely and how can I manage my team efficiently?
However, studies have found that the remote working model has been a success – one made possible through digital technology.
Whether you love it or hate it, technology has been on hand to save the day for the small business throughout lockdown. Innovative apps and tools have been developed over recent years to aid business digital communications – all of which have made remote working possible.
You can find out which technological services have made these levels of productivity achievable in our ‘tips for managing your remote workforce’ below.
5 Tips for Managing your Remote Workforce Effectively
1. Take advantage of communication and collaboration technology
- Microsoft Teams – Digital platform where you can communicate with your team, create channels so conversations are easier to find, and run your business’s day-to-day correspondence.
- VoIP – A phone system that transmits voice calls over IP networks. It’s a way of making phone calls using the internet rather than using a landline. Call charges are lower, and there’s no need to invest in multiple phone lines or hardware.
- Zoom – Used by remote teams to host video meetings. Meetings and calls can also be recorded if needed.
- Slack – This platform is often used as a virtual HQ. It’s used by teams to chat, share files, and integrate tools. Separate channels can be created to make communication much more focused and easier to follow.
2. Ensure your key documents are fully accessible
- Microsoft 365 – A line of subscription services offered by Microsoft which adds to and includes the Microsoft Office product line. Your team would have access to collaboration tools such as Outlook (email), Teams, Security, File storage, and sharing.
- Google Drive – A cloud-based storage service with a free storage plan. Google Drive also lets you create, edit, store, and collaborate on documents with your team!
- WeTransfer – A simple document-sharing site with over 80 million monthly users. Excellent if your company relies on larger file transfers. Simply select a file you wish to transfer and send to the recipient through a link or direct message.
3. Take advantage of a wider recruitment pool
One of the benefits of remote working is that it widens your recruitment pool. Typically, you would seek employees within commutable distances. Now you can recruit the best candidates for the job, regardless of their location.
LinkedIn – Just because you’re working remotely, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make new additions to your team. LinkedIn allows you to: Find a suitable employee, connect and strengthen your professional relationships, organise virtual events, post articles, photos, and videos.
4. Ensure your remote workforce is operating at their full potential
Managing your team and keeping track of their work output has been cited as one of the biggest concerns surrounding working from home. For many small businesses, hiring an in-house HR resource is not an option.
There are several online human resources designed to help you to manage your staff remotely – these tools will allow you to record staff absences, track time, solve payroll issues, manage expenses – all without any face-to-face interaction.
Business Doctors Online HR Tool
The Business Doctors virtual HR platform is a useful tool that enables you as a small business owner to manage your people. Some of the features include lateness recording and reporting, holiday and absence self-service, staï¬€ expenses, and time tracking.
To explore more features of our online virtual platform, please click here.
Additional tools have recently been developed to help you manage your team as businesses prepare to return to normality, these include:
- A new seat booking feature that allows your employees to reserve a desk at the workplace. This ensures that you’re able to comply with the rules and get staff safely back to work.
- Return To Workplace Questionnaire – Ask important COVID-19 related questions such as â€œHave you or anyone in your household tested positive for COVID-19 in the past?â€ and â€œWould you be considered at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) to Covid-19?â€
5. Morale boosting team activities
Dedicate a space for informal conversation
Informal chit-chat was a perk of the office that helped to break up the working day. Creating a WhatsApp chat that’s strictly â€˜weekend antics’ related is a great way to keep workforce morale up.
Remote working has meant that your employees haven’t been able to go for a drink together in a while. This is a highly endorsed ritual that most teams have given thumbs up to. Your business may have employed new staff over the lockdown who haven’t met the rest of your workforce yet. A happy hour on a Friday afternoon can help to solve this. It may not be the pub, but it’s still a nice bonding activity to finish the working week.
Monthly Quiz/Team Games
Nothing quite brings people together like a quiz. Bonding, playful rivalry, and plenty of laughs all help to make team games a hugely morale-boosting activity.
Managing your remote team is achievable, especially with the tools and services available to you that have been designed with businesses in mind. Why not take advantage of these wonderful platforms to encourage team morale.
Business Doctors appreciate that remote working is uncharted territory for many small businesses across the UK. As an SME owner, we hope that you’ve found this article helpful when it comes to effectively managing your remote team and boosting morale.