Skip to content

7 Winning Strategies for Managing Your Remote Workforce

As more and more companies move to a posture that includes remote work, it’s becoming more critical for managers to adapt their management style. Gone are the days when you could stick your head in your direct report’s office to ask how they were doing. As the work landscape changes, so too does the most effective management tactics. 

When employees work remotely, they still require guidance and feedback on their performance. That said, too much guidance can appear overbearing. The trick is to strike a balance that leaves employees feeling as if their manager is there for them while still trusting them to get their work done independently. 

Let’s take a look at some winning strategies for managing your remote workforce without having to micromanage them

Use a non-intrusive instant messaging platform

Programs such as Slack or Skype give you the capability to give and receive real-time, up to date messaging on hot button issues affecting your team. This can include client feedback, your company’s operating status, or any other issues impacting the project. While it helps to have static platforms available for your team to post documents to or send messages with, having an instant messaging platform gives more immediacy for urgent issues. 

You can also make it clear to your team what this platform isn’t: it’s not a way for their manager to constantly check up on them to ensure they’re doing work. It’s making yourself available in case they need support from you. Frame it as a tool your employees can use if they need to get in touch with you or each other quickly. If they’re not constantly able to check-in using it, that’s okay – they’re allowed to be busy and not tied to their computers 24/7. But giving them the option for fast access to leadership can help them feel more comfortable as you transition to remote work. 

Introduce the concept of accountability partners

If you’ve got a large team, you likely don’t have time to continually check up on every person throughout the day. It’s also not a great management strategy to do so – it veers into the territory of micromanagement. But you’ll still want to have team members who are willing to be held accountable. At least at first, you’ll also want to be sure everyone’s keeping on track. 

It may help to introduce the concept of accountability partners to your team. This involves your team members pairing off and having an individual they can check in with and come to for questions throughout the workday. These partnerships may not be able to satisfy every request or answer every question. But they can help escalate major problems while keeping team members accountable to stay on task. They also enable you as the manager to avoid having to constantly check-in for your team members’ availability – the accountability partners will keep tabs on each other. They can keep each other driving towards their performance goals. 

If one partner needs to step away from their desk or tend to a personal issue, they can let their partner know without disrupting the workflow of the entire team. 

Stay organized with a comprehensive communication platform

Of course, instant messaging isn’t the only capability you’ll need as a team. You’ll need someplace to post final documents, collaborate on draft versions of documents, and hold video conferences. That’s why you’ll want to adopt some sort of comprehensive communication platform that has multiple functionalities (if you don’t have one already). This gives everyone on your team the ability to locate resources they need when they can’t get in touch with someone directly. It also helps promote creativity and productivity. Having a cloud solution where multiple team members can review and edit documents fosters better collaboration among the team members. 

Platforms like Microsoft Teams and the Google Suite of applications can serve your team in any number of ways. The specific platform you opt for will depend on your team’s specific industry and needs. 

Make sure their devices are up to date

Whether it’s the applications you use or the antivirus software, ensure that all company-issued devices have all the latest updates they’ll need to perform their roles. This will cut down on the time your team members spend sending requests for assistance to you or your team’s remote IT support. Of course, it helps to have 24/7 remote IT support available in case they do need assistance with an issue on one of their desktop services, but preparation can help limit these types of inquiries. 

Have a regularly scheduled “heat check”

One of the biggest obstacles to remote work is the possibility of your employees feeling isolated or without support. Without the personal interaction and camaraderie of the office, they may feel like they aren’t being seen or heard. 

Scheduling a weekly “heat check” meeting for status updates allows everyone to meet together and discuss updates and issues. You can get ahead of potential problems and respond to existing ones as a team, together. While you can hold this sort of meeting as a conference call, a video conference is a great way to leave everyone feeling even more connected by being able to see each other. 

Write an agenda for your meeting, giving every member of the team equal time to discuss what’s important to them. Ask everyone to keep their updates to issues that pertain to the entire group or issues they need feedback on. This will help you save time and not go too far “into the weeds.”

Implement a task matrix

Even if your team members are all 100% briefed on their roles and responsibilities, it can be easy to lose track of progress – both for you and them. As a manager, it’s ultimately your responsibility to keep tabs on the major projects within your team – who’s working on what and when it all needs to be completed. This is where a task matrix can be a useful tool. 

A task matrix is typically a table or some other type of spreadsheet that tracks every single task within your project as well as the status. Here’s the information you should have for each item: 

  • The name of the task
  • The category of the project under which it resides (i.e. financial, communication, etc.)
  • The person (or people) responsible for it
  • The current status and level of priority (i.e. low, medium, high, or urgent/immediate)
  • Any notes on challenges or obstacles standing between the project and its completion
  • A deadline

Give your entire team access to this document so they can update it on a regular basis. Post it to your team’s communication tool or file-sharing software (Microsoft SharePoint or Google Docs) and make it available to everyone. Ask them to update it by the same time each week so you can check it for updates. You can then use this to guide your team video conferences and discussions. 

Hold one-on-ones when necessary

Team meetings via video conference can be a great tool when you need lots of status updates from multiple people on multiple projects. But what happens when you have an individual issue with a single team member? Maybe they’re spearheading an important project and you need to take a deeper dive with them. It may not require the rest of your team to be present. Or maybe some team members don’t feel entirely comfortable sharing all updates on a team-wide call. They may have pointed questions they want to ask you in private. 

That’s why you should schedule one-on-one video conferences with team members as needed. You can do this as a regularly scheduled meeting or as a one-off to discuss an individual task or project. It may be something you start off doing weekly as your team begins working remotely, then taper the frequency as they become less necessary. 

One-on-one meetings give your team the ability to take an in-depth look at their individual task load with leadership on the line. They can ask questions and seek feedback outside of a group setting, making them more comfortable and more likely to find the meeting to be a valuable use of their time. 

Listen to your team members and evolve as necessary

Whatever management tactics you decide to implement, remember to communicate with your team and listen to their feedback. Are they struggling to keep up with their work once they’ve gone remote? Are they not doing enough? Is your meeting schedule too rigorous, or do they not feel as if they have enough outlets to maintain contact? Are their deliverables still coming in on time, and are your clients and company leadership happy with the results? 

By listening to your team members, you can better understand how effective your remote management style has become. Feel free to tweak it as needed by adopting new tools or increasing the use of your existing ones. As you move to customize your IT platform for your team’s specific needs, it will help to have a partner on your side who understands how to manage those IT services. Applied Innovations can be that partner. We have experience assisting companies with their comprehensive IT solutions. For more on how we can help you and your team as you shift to remote work, contact us today

[optin-monster-shortcode id=”xzzfqbtytdw78gbx8gbq”]

About Jeff Collins

Experience and Expertise make the difference when searching for top cloud providers. Appliedi has provided managed cloud services since 1999.

Scroll To Top