Remote working is currently on the rise in Africa and across the globe. With ROAM Africa announcing its remote working policy recently, it is expected that many other companies will soon follow suit. For companies in Africa, the financial benefits of remote working remain the key motivator for shifting to this work model. While the cost savings of having remote workers are formidable, it can also be a way to improve the overall well-being of employees. However, for managers, this remains uncharted territory. Managing remote workers calls for a strong leader who has the ability to transcend the distance to achieve the same end result: greater productivity, employee satisfaction, and company performance. For a manager to get the best out of their remote employees, they must be prepared to adopt a slightly different approach.
DEFINE THE DIFFERENT NEEDS OF YOUR REMOTE WORKERS
Before you can address the needs of your remote team, you first define what remote working means to your organisation. Remote working does not always refer to working from home. Remote working environments can differ drastically and as a result, so do the needs of your workers. For example, most remote workers need to have good time management skills. It would therefore make sense for a manager to provide time management training as part of their package. Similarly, since most communication and transmission of data will be done online, the protection of employer data will be heightened. The formulation of a cybersecurity policy along with employer-provided tools and workshops on the confidentiality of sensitive information online is important.
PROVIDE TOOLS TO ENSURE STRONG COMMUNICATION
Communication and collaboration become crucial in a remote working setup if you want to encourage productivity from your workers. Making sure your remote team has the tools they need ensures that communication and feedback are instantaneous and accessible. For team communication, apps such as Slack are the most preferred, while Zoom and Skype for Business are great video conferencing tools. For workers that need to collaborate on product design or technical aspects of the job, InVision and GitHub can help. Finally, for individual employee monitoring on time management and prioritisation, Asana and Hive are some of the most popular apps on the market.
CREATE A COMPANY-SPECIFIC REMOTE WORKING QUESTIONNAIRE
While remote working has its benefits, not all employees are suited to this format of working. Some key qualities that are desirable in remote workers include high self-motivation levels, good time management or prioritisation skills, and well-honed communication skills. To help the company and employees assess whether remote working is a great fit for them, a simple questionnaire can help. As a manager, you want to be confident that your remote working team will meet deadlines and perform accordingly. To assess their time management skills, you can include scenario questions. Also, an employee’s resume can tell you a lot about their communication skills.
Finally, take the time to address company politics when it comes to remote workers. Past studies have shown that remote workers can feel shunned and left out by colleagues. This can lead to them feeling unmotivated, disengaged, and unsatisfied in their job role. For the company, this equates to low levels of productivity and high employee turnover. Implement ways to make your remote team feel included and synchronised with other employees, such as bringing your watercooler conversations online or encouraging face-to-face meetings once every few weeks.
Remote working can be a great tool for both companies and employees if done properly. For managers of remote workers, using the right strategies and tools can help you get the best from your remote employees while keeping them motivated and happy.
Courtesy of Jane Watson and JobnetAfrica