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7 Challenges of Managing Remote Employees and How to Solve Them

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7 Challenges of Managing Remote Employees and How to Solve Them

An increasing number of individuals currently work from home or at least have expressed interest in doing so. As of 2023, around 12.7% of full-time employees work remotely. A whopping 98% of the workforce wishes to work remotely (full-time or in hybrid mode). Further, nearly 93% of employers want to continue hiring remotely. 

These numbers point to a shift in people seeking remote or work-from-home jobs more than ever, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intuitive to realize why employees prefer to work remotely, but what about the employers? There is also an increasing recognition of remote work becoming a sustainable mode for many companies. 

This article will help you understand what it means to hire remote workers/work and manage remote employees. It will also delve into the challenges and how you can resolve them.

Understanding Remote Employees

Unlike traditional in-person office settings, remote jobs allow people to work from home, in co-working spaces, or in a private office. Growing technological advancements, especially high-speed connectivity, have made this virtual setting possible. 

Remote employees include full-time employees and independent contractors or freelancers. These people can conduct online video meetings, share files, and collaborate on projects while having the flexibility and freedom they want. This arrangement saves time and resources, improves employee productivity, and helps organizations grow.

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 Working from home avoids commuting, and fewer commuters result in 

 lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

7 Challenges of Managing Remote Employees and Their Solutions

Remote organizations have several benefits. But managing a remote workforce, where some members live overseas, comes with unique challenges. Let us explore some challenges of managing remote employees and how you can overcome them. 

1. Conducting Team Meetings

When your team members work remotely on different schedules and time zones, getting everyone together for a meeting can be challenging. Though emails and messages may sometimes work, some require you to schedule team meetings. This problem becomes more extensive if you work with self-employed individuals like independent contractors and freelancers who may work outside designated company hours. The meetings you organize should be as productive as possible, especially when you have been able to gather all your team members. 

Solutions for Organizing Meetings for Remote Teams:

  • Set an agenda: Inform your team members of the agenda of the meeting. It helps you stay focused without straying from the matter at hand. Your workers should know what is expected of them. You can also ask your team members to come prepared with any thoughts or a list of questions so that they can contribute to the discussion. 
  • Use the right tools and applications: Every organization needs specific tools and apps depending on the nature of its work. You might need your team to take notes of the meeting on one particular app, join a specific platform to take the meeting, or download some software for the session. Letting your team know of this can make the flow of the discussion smoother. 
  • Quality equipment and reliable internet connection: Some parts of the world may still need better internet and power outages, which may block the meeting. Ensure your remote workforce has all the necessary equipment and a good internet connection. 

2. Cultivating Company Culture

Many organizations find building and promoting their company culture challenging, even in person. If you have a team of remote workers, this task can become more tricky. Remote work environments leave fewer choices to celebrate events together, have face-to-face candid conversations, or share feedback over coffee. It may also impact the sense of belonging and community among employees. 

Solutions for Cultivating Company Culture: 

  • Plan annual get-togethers: Employers can schedule get-togethers at least once a year where all the workforce can meet and interact. This builds trust among team members as they get to know each other in person. 
  • Host virtual parties and games night: The interactions among team members during working hours will differ from those during informal sessions. Organizing virtual meetings that create a space for your employees to talk, play games together, and build a bond fosters a healthy culture. 
  • Offer gifts and awards: Valuing the efforts of team members who work and coordinate with each other from miles away boosts their morale. You can send them gifts on festivals or special occasions and hand out awards to exceptional employees.

3. Coordination of Schedules

Remote employees, whether full-time or independent contractors have different schedules. Employees may need help coordinating with each other due to different time zones. It is unrealistic for everyone to be present for all the meetings, training, and doubt-clearing sessions. Team members cannot reach out to someone at any hour of the day. 

Solutions for Coordinating Schedules:

  • Create comprehensive resources and update them regularly: Remote workers should have access to helpful guides they can go through for their queries. The guides could include company policies, work-related training modules, FAQs, etc. The goal is to eliminate the waste of time and resources spent on scheduling meetings for things that can be resolved quickly. 
  • Use collaboration tools: With the rise of the remote workforce, several collaboration platforms are available in the market, making work life convenient. Distributed teams can use communication channels, task management apps, shared project management platforms, etc., for better coordination.
  • Record and share meetings when possible: You may be unable to record and share every meeting due to privacy concerns or other factors. But whenever possible, record meetings the remote workforce can view later according to their schedule. This also saves time in certain instances, as people can resolve their queries or learn through those recorded videos. 

4. Building Trust

Remote companies stand tall on the foundation of trust. While employers have concerns about productivity or timely deliveries, employees may worry about the compensation process or work-life balance. Lack of trust can negatively impact the work, culture, and employee relationships. 

Solutions to Building Trust Among a Remote Team:

  • Be transparent about working hours: Many remote workers may want to work a certain number of hours daily. Due to working from different parts of the world, some workers may be unable to stretch their day beyond those hours. Some may want to be compensated for working extra hours. Having clear company policies and informing your employees beforehand helps build trust. 
  • Give status updates on projects: Remote workers may complete a task from their end and consider it done. Depending on the nature of the work, the deliverable may require one or multiple rounds of revision. Let your team know if the task is under review phase, completed, needs revision, etc. Informing team members reduces frustration, brings transparency to work, and fosters a sense of trust.
  • Be clear about the workload for independent contractors: Telling freelancers or independent workers that they will have several projects to work on and not deliver on the statement can be misleading. Despite being well-intentioned, this can be detrimental to their morale. Being transparent about the workload builds trust among a remote team.

5. Achieving Productivity and Accountability

It is natural for employers to be concerned about the productivity and accountability of their remote workers. Clear expectations, effective communication, and a collaborative work culture can lead to better outcomes. Micromanagement, however appealing it may sound, impedes productivity due to repeated interruptions. 

Solutions to Achieve Productivity and Accountability:

  • Set deliverables and deadlines: Let your employees know your expectations for deliverables and the time frame they need to complete the tasks. There may be unexpected delays or issues when workers are in a remote setting. Set up a transparent process to deal with and resolve such challenges.
  • Communicate project goals: Remote employees may sometimes feel disconnected and focus only on the tasks where they are directly involved. However, since projects are a sum of collaborative efforts, where one task affects the other, setting goals helps see the bigger picture. If you inform your employees of the expected outcomes, they may take ownership and work well to support their teammates. 
  • Compensate your team fairly and timely: Setting up payroll systems for a remote workforce can be challenging and time-consuming. Some global payroll companies make calculating wages, payroll taxes, timely release of salary, etc., very convenient. It ensures that you never miss payments or spend hours doing the admin work, thus keeping your employees satisfied. 

6. Effective Communication

A crucial aspect for remote workers is to be able to communicate effectively with one another. Communication could be regarding the scope of work, understanding duties and responsibilities, sharing feedback, etc. People may need to catch up on or interpret emails. Chat messaging may not work sometimes due to platform errors or poor connectivity. Some members may need clarification about whom to contact in case of work-related or organizational queries.

Solutions to Fostering Effective Communication:

  • Foster empathetic work culture: Remote employees often struggle to communicate and collaborate with other members. Digital communication also leaves room for interpretation and understanding. Foster a positive work culture where people remain polite, friendly, collaborative, and empathetic towards each other. 
  • Organize one-on-one meetings: Compared to large group meetings, individually connecting with team members can give them better clarity about certain things. People who may hesitate to reach out or need more time in large group meetings can get their concerns addressed one-on-one. 
  • Have a central communication hub: Your employees must be able to pass on updates without always having to message everyone personally or schedule a meeting with someone. So, besides emails and messaging platforms, consider having a primary platform that keeps your team updated and accountable. 

7. Project and Task Coordination 

Among many of handling a remote team’s challenges is the one where you need your employees to manage multiple projects and tasks, sometimes in different time zones. The virtual setting may pose significant challenges unless you have an effective system for managing and coordinating projects. Poor coordination leads to wasted time and resources, confusion among team members, and impacts the quality of work. 

Solutions for Better Coordination:

  • Make sure everyone understands their role: Aligning the respective team members is crucial, no matter how big or small a project is. When your employees know the goal behind an activity and what they need to deliver, it leaves little room for confusion.
  • Hold timely meetings to asses the progress: Some projects may require all team members to be included from the beginning, while some may need them on an ad hoc basis. Regardless of the case, having weekly or bi-monthly meetings with the involved members can help understand and resolve challenges. This will eliminate the need for last-minute discussions, which is challenging with a remote workforce.
  • Set objectives and key results: Setting practical goals, giving the ownership of updating them to appropriate stakeholders, and timely updates regarding them can be helpful in remote settings. This tracking method is highly effective in ensuring all team members know the status of the project and coordinates better to meet those OKRs.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Employees

Remote work has become the new norm for many companies. It is a win-win setting for both employees and employers. Here are a few advantages of hiring remote workers:

  1. Access to global talent pool: Companies can work with potential candidates based outside their geographic location. 
  2. Hiring skilled workforce: Employers can hire talented individuals well-suited for jobs without geographic barriers.
  3. Higher retention rates: Remote workers find more work-life balance than their office counterparts. This helps organizations boost retention.
  4. Cost-effective setting: Companies have saved a lot of financial resources by hiring remote employees and not having to pay for office space, cleaning services, food, electricity, etc. 
  5. Expanded digital capabilities: Companies that have shifted to being remote have transformed digitally, enabling practical work and better competency.

Manage Your Global Team With Skuad

Having a remote workforce has proved to be beneficial for many companies. However, employers face a few challenges in managing globally distributed remote teams. One of the biggest ones is connecting with the right people. Further, hiring, onboarding, and paying globally distributed teams can be complicated. 

Found talent that you want to hire? This is where Skuad can help you. Skuad’s global employment and payroll platform enables organizations to manage a globally distributed workforce. The platform allows you to hire and onboard individuals from over 160 countries without setting up a local entity. So, talk to our experts to build and manage globally distributed teams.

FAQs

1. How do you manage remote workers without micromanaging?

Micromanagement can lead to a loss of productivity and trust among remote workers. Instead, you can set project goals and deadlines and communicate your expectations to the team.

2. How can you motivate remote employees?

Employee motivation comes from several aspects. Having the necessary tools and equipment your remote team needs makes their job easier. Employers should promote a collaborative and open communication culture to build trust. Consider having employee recognition programs where they are rewarded for their efforts.

About the author

Kate Jonson is a Software Engineer and Tech Writer. During the day, she writes codes and develops tech products. At night, she moonlights as a tech writer sharing her thoughts on work productivity and efficient HR management practices. 

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