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7 Pitfalls to Avoid When Managing Remote Employees

by OnSIP

By staying aware of these issues, you'll lead your remote working teammates to professional success!

Remote work has grown increasingly popular in recent years, but transitioning your team to a hybrid or remote work environment isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes a combination of personal skills and technology.

To maximize productivity and minimize mistakes, take a look at these common pitfalls and how managers can avoid them.

1. Failing to Provide Constructive Feedback

With any type of relationship, communication is key. This becomes even more important in a remote environment. Your team can only improve their skills and results if they receive feedback. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening as much as it should.

Instead of waiting for an annual performance review to provide feedback, consider doing so much more frequently. Think about how many times you’ve interacted with your employees this month. Have you provided specific, clear and constructive criticism?

Not everyone has the same needs, so take the time to provide work from home productivity tips for employees who need a boost. Even the smallest bit of advice can go a long way. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. You may find your employees are lacking important tools, like a good laptop, headset or ergonomic chairs.

2. Assuming Remote Work Is Less Productive Than In-Person Office Work

Out of sight, out of mind. It’s easy to assume that your employees aren’t really working when you can’t see them. Your anxiety might lead you to believe they’re watching TV, playing video games, going out with friends or worse—working for another company.

The reality is a little different. According to a survey by Owl Labs, 62% of workers said they feel more productive when working remotely.

You can avoid this mistake by reconsidering how productivity is measured. Consider whether work is getting done on time and efficiently rather than focusing on the amount of time worked. You can adjust this based on success measures relevant to your company, like number of sales per day, accounts taken care of, or documents processed.

3. Lacking the Right Tools

Individually, it isn’t too difficult to manage your own tasks and goals with regards to work. However, when your work relies on other people or departments, things get a little more complicated. They get even more complicated when you manage remote employees. This can quickly cause work delays, with people not knowing the status of certain projects.

Solving this requires the right cloud tech stack and productivity tools. Consider using project management apps like Monday.com, Trello and Asana. These allow your employees to set deadlines other team members can see, communicate with each other, share documents and track progress without sending a hundred emails back and forth.

4. Bad Communication Tools

Just because people are used to FaceTiming each other on their smartphones doesn’t mean they’re automatically ready to use video calls in a professional environment. Why? Well, workplace video conferencing tools are a little more complex.

First, there are several of them. From Google Meets to Zoom and Microsoft Teams, each one has different features and interfaces. That means that doing simple things like sharing your screen or changing your background could quickly become frustrating.

Second, take some time to understand the skills of your employees. Have they used your video conference software of choice before? Are they total rookies to video conferencing in general? Do they understand how lighting affects how they appear on video calls?

Screenshot of a video conference call in the OnSIP softphone app.
The OnSIP app—available in the web browser or as a desktop application—connects remote working teammates to their coworkers through video conferencing, video calls, and presence status notifications.

Third, do they understand the other modern communication tools you use? Do they know how to set up email or chat on their mobile phones? Are they familiar with the computer operating system you provide? Once you get answers to these questions, you can start training them to be more efficient.

5. Failing to Offer Professional Development

Career growth is an important factor for many employees. If they don’t see a path to grow at your company, they may choose to leave for a company that does.

Unfortunately, over 40 percent of remote workers had fewer professional development opportunities, according to a survey from talent management company Beamery. Thankfully, this is an easy problem to fix. When you hire them, ask them what their professional goals are. In fact, do so whenever you have an annual review.

Once that’s done, you can refer them to professional development platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, FutureLearn, Skillshare and Coursera. This will allow your employees to learn new skills and apply them in your company, giving you a better employee who improves your operations.

6. Failing to Set Clear Expectations on Working Hours

When you work in an office, there are clear expectations for when to work. You wake up to your pre-set alarm, commute for however long and arrive at the office at a certain time. At the end of the day, you leave at a certain time, commute home and live your life.

With remote work, those boundaries are blurred. You can easily wake up, get ready and go to work. Then you may keep working long into the night. Your employees can get more done, sure, but it also means they may fail to disconnect and rest.

Solve this issue by giving your employees set hours and be sure to remind them to log off and take some time for themselves. You can even encourage them to set up work hours in software like Outlook so they’re reminded when to take a break.

7. Not Managing Mental and Physical Health

One major negative of remote work is the lack of movement and in-person socialization. If you’re working at home, you don’t have to walk around an office or go outside. You also aren’t socializing with a lot of people, especially if you live alone.

When you consider there’s evidence remote workers actually work longer each day (up to 3 hours more, according to Bloomberg), you can quickly have employees who are burning out and not physically taking care of themselves.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to solve this. Encourage your employees to take walks in the middle of the day, or even go for a workout to keep fresh. Remember that working out can actually de-stress people, potentially making them more efficient.

You can also make an effort to arrange virtual team-bonding meetings so that they can interact. Just because your employees don’t all work in the same location doesn’t mean you should give up on creating a workplace culture.

Adeptly Manage Remote Employees to Foster Remote Work Productivity

Remote work has a number of benefits, from making employees feel like they have flexibility to being more productive. However, some people may need some time to adapt, including you. With the proper tips for successfully managing remote employees, you can help your company and employees be more productive and happier than ever.

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