How to Manage Your Remote Workforce

How to manage your remote workforce

Neil Winter, Workforce management Consultant

As someone who has spent many years working from home for various organisations, I have been subject to best and worst of remote management ranging from completely hands-off results based to very hands-on micromanagement.

When I first started working from home I would hear the same thing from friends and colleagues, “do you get out of your pajamas”, “no traffic queues for you”, “you must see lots of daytime tv” et etc, however, it is not that glamorous and it takes discipline either self or imposed (ideally a combination of both) to make working at home successful.

According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2019 1.7 million people reported working mainly from home, in March 2020, this had risen to 4 million working mainly from home with 8.7 million people saying that they have worked from home.

With the number of people working from home rising exponentially and with the expectation that this could become the new “norm”, how do companies that are new to this concept or have some reservations about it implement methods to manage their remote workers?

There are some very basic practices that can be introduced to support your home workers:

Set clear expectations and goals not activity levels. Ensure your team understands what is expected, make it achievable, and at the same level as if they were in the office.

As a manager regularly engage with your team on both a 1-1 basis and if possible as a team, separate work sessions and social sessions,  there are many examples of companies being really creative in terms of bringing teams together at least once a week using conferencing technology whether it be for a drinks catchup or maybe a team quiz.

Trust your employees, encourage and support them, treat them as adults and understand that working from home is very different from working in the office, there will be distractions, there will be interruptions and the office 9 to 5 working window will require flex, make sure they get the right levels of relaxation and exercise and emphasize with them, for those new to it working from home can be a challenge.

We are in unprecedented times and many of the disciplines and ways of working we are currently experiencing will likely remain after lockdown ends, home working is well on its way to becoming  the new normal way of working for many companies and employees, embrace it and ensure you put the right foundations in place to ensure it works for both parties.