Four Best Practices for Managing a Remote Workforce

Does your company have what it takes to create a remote work policy and manage employees no matter where they’re working?

The ability to work remotely full-time or at least in a hybrid capacity will be an expectation from most employees moving forward. Let’s take a look at what a post-pandemic workforce looks like and how employers can be best prepared for their employees.

According to a study done by Caprelo, a work relocation company, 87% of people stated that having the ability to work remotely would be part of future employment decisions. Another study of 1,100 working parents by FlexJobs showed that 62% of respondents would quit their current job if they were unable to continue working remotely!

As a result, it’s forcing many companies into discussions they may not have considered before: do our people really need to be physically present at the office to get the work done? Sometimes, the answer is unequivocally yes. But many times, there can be a compromise. As we can see by the stats above, employees are not only hoping for, but are demanding that compromise.

Employees are finding the benefits of remote work both professionally and personally. As some companies look to transition their people back to the office after more than a year of pandemic-related remote work, employers are having to take a look at their current work-from-home policies or create hybrid in-office/work-from-home strategies to offer their employees more flexibility.

Here are four best practices for your remote work policy:

1. Clear Direction From Leadership

As with any company initiative, clear and direct plans and expectations from leadership need to be set when rolling out remote work options. If you’re working to create a policy or looking to update yours, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

  • Can all employees work remotely full-time if they choose?
  • Is it a hybrid model where employees need to be in-office certain days of the week?
  • Will remote work options vary by department?
  • Can employees choose their desired work hours within reason?

Leaders should spend time thoroughly working through these questions to determine what best fits the needs of their people and company before implementing a policy. Having clearly defined guidelines to your policy helps employees know what to expect when considering remote work options and helps managers answer any questions that may come their way.

To keep employees engaged and ensure your policy is meeting their needs, we recommend creating an open line of communication for feedback. Here are some ideas:

  • Send out a survey that is always open for feedback.
  • Have your leaders ask about their employees’ work-from-home experience monthly.
    • One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity for this!
  • Have regular leadership huddles to discuss what’s working and if they’ve noticed any areas for improvement across departments.

2. Technology

Technology plays a huge role in your employees’ productivity and engagement, both in the office and at home. Take time to assess the technology you currently have and if you need to enhance it for your people to be successful when working remotely on a permanent/hybrid basis. Pro tip: this is another great opportunity to survey teams to see what items each department will need to effectively do their jobs remotely.

While items like desktop computers, laptops, keyboards, a wireless mouse, internet connection, and secure access to company documents are obvious needs, here are some additional items we’ve found to be game-changers for our people:

  • Extra monitors
  • HDMI cords
  • USB hubs
  • Laptop stands
  • Wifi boosters

One small item that can make a big impact is a camera. Staying connected to bosses and co-workers is important when working remotely, and a laptop with a camera or a small USB-connected camera for a desktop is a simple way to help remote employees feel more connected by being able to connect virtually face-to-face.

3. Maintaining Culture Virtually

Maintaining company culture can be challenging when managing a remote workforce. A great place to start is simply communication among employees and management. Hold regular virtual one-on-one meetings with your people to check in on them and see how they’re doing both personally and professionally and ask for regular feedback on how remote work is going to show your employees they have an open line of communication to discuss any needs or roadblocks.

Pro tip: hold all virtual meetings with video when possible! Being able to see the faces of all participants can help remote employees feel more connected to in-office employees and vice versa — just because people are working at home doesn’t mean they have to miss out on face-to-face connections.

Last but not least, celebrations are important! Continuing to have celebrations and parties with all employees, by either inviting remote employees to the office or holding virtual celebrations, is a great way to help your remote employees feel in touch with the company and their peers.

4. Potential Pitfalls Employers Face

There are still some potential issues employers may struggle with when implementing remote work programs that can impact employees and the company as a whole. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Not clearly stating guidelines and expectations of what remote working should look like.
  • Only celebrating the successes of in-person employees — make sure to include remote employees and celebrate their accomplishments!
  • Recognize that it’s harder for employees to be “seen.” Employees still need to be able to see opportunities for advancement regardless of where they’re working.
  • Employee burnout — the lines of work and home can be blurred and some employees can find it easier to work through lunch or work outside of normal hours.

Nextep’s HR experts are always standing by to help craft remote/hybrid work policies for your company! Schedule a meeting with us to see how our pros can help arm your company with next-level HR support and the technology to manage your workforce no matter where you are.

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