Managing Remote Employees Is Easier when You Quit These Old Habits

Managing remote employees is challenging. Really challenging. You’re often working across different time zones with people you rarely see in work settings that you have very little (if any) control over.

There are also countless benefits to be reaped from remote workforces. For example:

  • Remote employees are 20% more productive and almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week
  • A remote workforce lets you recruit the best of the best, regardless of location
  • Remote work can save you a ton of money

The number of people working remotely is higher than ever, and continues to grow. Sixty percent of office-based employees will reportedly be working from home by 2022.

But we’re still in a transition period.

Managers have a lot to learn about which office workflows don’t translate well to remote teams. Bosses accustomed to managing people in conference rooms and cubicles are adjusting to chat rooms and videoconferencing. Hiring decisions can no longer be made based on proficiencies and references alone.

If you want to experience the benefits of a remote workforce, you’re going to have to get comfortable with some untraditional management styles—and kick old habits to the curb.

For example:

Stop looking for talent alone.

Talent is still important, but it will only get you so far with remote teams. While there are plenty of ways to maintain a culture of camaraderie remotely, these will only work if you’re not spending your days providing direction on every single task. People who are in constant need of the next assignment and additional guidance tend to work better in a traditional office setting.

Instead, hire doers. These are the people who have a proven track record of originating ideas and getting things done whether they’re down the hall or across an ocean. Self-motivation and innovation are key indicators of remote work success.

This will allow you to:

Resist the urge to check in constantly.

Did you hire doers? Now trust them to manage their time independently and workloads wisely. To be an effective remote manager, you have to resist any urges to constantly check in throughout the day. Endless email chains and daily status calls only make people think they’re more engaged. This style of micromanagement can in fact do more harm than good—especially in a culture that’s proven people accomplish more with flexibility.

Instead, use remote tools like Jell and Slack. These can help keep the lines of communication open while allowing a hands-off approach that doesn’t stifle creative freedoms.

On the other hand:

Be careful not to become too relaxed.

Even the most independent individuals will still need some structure to achieve team goals. There’s no harm in occasionally using your laptop at the beach or taking mid-morning gym breaks. Just don’t let it take the place of thoughtful leadership. You still need to spend time engaging employees and making them feel like they’re a true part of the team.

Instead, try using OKRs to manage goals. These can be very effective ways to open the channels of communication and align teams with overall company objectives. Even though things might feel chaotic at times, having an end goal in mind can help tremendously.

These are just a few of the bad habits that can undermine the effective management of remote teams. What others have you had to break? What recommendations do you have? We’re always looking for more ways to improve our own remote workforce and would love to hear your suggestions.

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