What are the best tools to manage a remote employee?

One of the key benefits of remote working involves allowing human beings to be, well, human, presenting employees with a more reasonable work-life balance.

Remote working – there’s nothing quite like it, hey?

If just a few months ago you’d called your boss and asked them to trade in your desk for your spare room, chances are they’d ask if you want to be the boss too. However, it’s a brave new world, and the days of pestering your work neighbour across the hall or the dread of reading “please see me in my office” are things of the past. Remote working was already on the rise across the world, but recent developments have seen this process fast tracked to the forefront of any work environment capable of doing so.

They say nothing breeds answers quite like the right questions, and our recent need for solutions provided exactly that. Gamechangers in their own right, the tools and resources implemented by organisations around the world have radically altered our working sphere, so much so that their impact is destined to be permanent.

Like anything, however, a new system inevitably presents challenges both in mindset and application. Managers especially have been required to shift their entire perception of running a team, and those used to measuring productivity or diligence on what’s in front of them are now in a conundrum.

The question on our lips is what comes next, and how do you manage your remote employees effectively? Well, with this in mind, we’ve compiled this guide to navigating remote employees and successfully managing the new working world.

 

First things first, what needs to be front-of-mind for WFH employers?

One of the key benefits of remote working involves allowing human beings to be, well, human, presenting employees with a more reasonable work-life balance. Globally, work-from-home has proven to increase productivity by up to 13%, but, sadly, a lack of supervision also presents room for misuse.

The key factors for any employer or organisation to consider are accountability and management – no employee should be allowed to go AWOL or work in isolation. Teamwork can be similarly tricky, as the further people are from each other, the harder it can be to connect. Solutions to both, however, work hand-in-hand, and one of the most fundamental strategies to both unify your team and ensure productivity would be the implementation of regular, preferably daily, meetings. Herein, your team can touch base, banter, outline their daily tasks and account for what’s already passed.

You’ll also need to establish a series of tools suitable for your business that prevents employees from going missing. Now, if only there was a guide for just this…

 

The Problem: lack of face time, reduced communication. 

The solution: Microsoft Teams:

Let’s start with the boss.

Working virtually allows time for employee smoke and coffee breaks, and the concept of a fixed lunch hour is relatively flexible. However, there are times where everyone needs to be visible, responsive and (most importantly) online. How else would you get anything done if there was a 4 hour delay between communication?

A fundamental element of successful remote working is a software platform that allows for openness, collaboration, instant communication and sharing. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be able to randomly call your staff and instantly see where they are.

For this, there is surely no better software than Microsoft Teams, which has basically replaced boardrooms, team meetings and heated brainstorm sessions we know and love. Call or schedule appointments, chat in a group or in private, organise your calendar or stop by for some face-time. You can see who’s online, streamline your communications or engage in some good ol’ passive aggression with a “thumbs-up” response.

Teams should be your primary point of contact, and there’s surely no better solution for communication, documentation and video/voice syncronisation.

 

The Problem: Official Correspondence, File Sharing

The solution: Microsoft Outlook:

Another superhero from Microsoft (thanks, Bill), Outlook is to any thriving organisation what the Batmobile is to Batman.

Conventional personal Emails and their resultant usernames are cool, but nothing screams professionalism like a unified company Email address and easy to manage Database wherein official correspondence can be stored. Outlook represents just that, as any employee knows how easy it is for “he said, she said” to occur and important comms to get lost in the shuffle.

With Microsoft Outlook, you’re saved the difficulty of scrolling eternally to look for something your boss said last year November, as their keyword search functionality allows for immediate results. Data is stored as far back as Dinosaurs, and calendar syncronisation with Teams allows for the most effective organisation of your day possible (plus, those constant “meeting in 15 minutes” reminders make it kind of hard to miss an appointment). You can safely store your mails according to your choice of folder, filter them in terms of relevance and, most importantly, rest assured that your information is safe from unwanted eyes.

 

The Problem: Covid19 Safety and Tracking

The solution: Braintree Engage

Of course, no post-covid survival piece would be complete without a simplified solution from yours truly. In these volatile times, employee safety is still paramount even if they’re not physically present. It’s vital that employers stay on the pulse of their staff happenings, be it location, health, contact with infected people or anything in between. 

As such, we’ve formulated Engage by Braintree, which allows for accurate screening, monitoring and tracking your daily employee information. Book a desk or confirm you’re working from home, pass a brief symptom clearance declaration and monitor your staff whereabouts. Let your people know you value their safety, and allow for peace of mind within your organisation at large.

 

Other Solutions:

  1. Follow up and touch base with individual members of your team regularly.
  2. Make (and stay true to) days, times and methods for team building and interaction.
  3. Define clear work standards, levels of productivity and deliverables for your team.
  4. Understand that there will be challenges or teething problems.
  5. Identify the right tools for your team, then provide them.

Remember that this is new to everyone, not just the employer, but with a combination of the right tools, strong leadership, processes and (of course) human understanding, you may find the appeal of conventional offices diminishing by the day. We know we’re already there. 

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