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7 Tips For Supervising Your New Remote Employees

When 2020 began, you may have supervised a handful of remote workers. Now, ready or not, many of your employees are working from home for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to supervising remote employees, even those who are only temporarily remote, the most important thing to remember is that out of sight should not mean out of mind. On the other hand, out of sight should not mean constant micromanaging either.

Here are some tips for successfully managing remote workers:

  1. Make sure they have the tools before they start. Remote employees must have the equipment, software, and capabilities to effectively do the job. This means having the ability to download and work on files and documents; call in for meetings (and hear and be heard); and use whatever project management software is applicable. If your company uses intranet for communicating with employees, make sure remote workers can access it.
  2. Set clear expectations. What hours do you expect the employee to be available? How often should they check in with you? Create hard deadlines on projects as well as milestone dates to check progress on projects.
  3. Have a communication strategy. Decide if instant messaging should be used for situations that require immediate answers, or if emails are to be answered within 24 hours. Maybe you want to make video conferencing a regular occurrence.
  4. Focus on productivity, not activity. That means you don’t worry about how many hours a day you see a person “logged in” to work on a device as long as the remote employee is reaching milestones, completing projects on time, and accomplishing goals.
  5. Respond in a timely manner. Answer remote workers’ questions with the same urgency you would if they popped into your office.
  6. Build rapport. Not that you want to be wasting their time or yours, but some light conversation via phone, Skype, or Teams that’s unrelated to work projects can help employees feel connected during this stressful time.
  7. Check the clock. If you are supervising remote employees in various locations, be considerate of any time zone differences when scheduling conference calls.

Tips to share with employees working from home for the first time

Establish a routine: You now have 24-hour access to work. You may be tempted to work longer hours. However, working too much can cause stress and stress-related illness. Knowing when to stop is essential for effective performance. One way to get around overwork is to implement specific business hours. Set firm starting and stopping times for yourself, and communicate these to your manager and coworkers.

Establish goals: Develop a list of goals and assignments for the days. Report your progress on these goals at reasonable intervals.

Stay in touch: Maintain regular communication with coworkers and supervisors. Employees and supervisors need to keep each other informed of the status of work, progress, difficulties, etc.