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Managing in Cyberspace

Not only has it been a growing trend for businesses to hire employees or independent contractors who take care of their work out of office, but in the current COVID-19 pandemic, many other businesses have been forced to adopt remote work, with their employees.

Managing your employees in an office setting requires a fairly common protocol. You can stop by their desks at any given time to check and see how their work is going, or you can organize regular meetings to update the entire office on the state of the company. But how will things change when so many of your employees are working from home?

Here are a few keys to help employers manage their out of office employees effectively.

Keep It Traditional

You don’t have to change as much as you think when managing off-site employees. Many of your materials are all just as easy to access from a remote location as they are from in the office. For example, whether all of your training materials can be accessed online or you need to print out and mail them an effective training program, you should take steps to ensure that all employees are well integrated into the company culture and aware of corporate procedures and policies. Employees who normally work in the office can use remote desktop applications to access their work machines and any files or tools they need to do their job, or use cloud-based apps to keep work moving whether in the office or at home.

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Be a Proactive Communicator

Just because you may not be able to meet with your employees in person does not mean that you shouldn’t maintain a steady flow of communication with them. I would strongly encourage employers to emphasize the two-way stream of communication. As employees update you on their progress, be sure to let them know what’s going on in the greater scheme of things. Demonstrating their value to the company will serve as a strong motivating tool. In addition to communicating with employees directly, you may want to send out a message to all employees simultaneously.  This way, everyone feels like they are receiving the same stream of information.

Demonstrate Trust with Silent Cues

As great as it may be to keep in touch with your employees, you don’t want to cripple their inspiration by constantly demanding progress updates while you bombard them with new tasks and deadlines. A good motivator might be to demonstrate your trust by letting them finish their projects on their own time according to the guidelines that you have given them. If you annoy your employees too much, they might grow frustrated and work less effectively than they would have had you given them a little more stress-free reign over their assignments. As a general rule, trust your employees with the work you have given them until they give you a reason not to.

Help Your Employees Grow

Although you might not see your employees often, you can still get to know them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Show your employees that you care about their opportunity for growth by assigning them new tasks and offering them the challenge of something that they have never done before. Let them know that you recognize what they have been doing well and are challenging them because you want to see them excel in other areas. Employees will value employers who offer them the chance to learn and develop their skills.

Matt Tarkenton

About Matt Tarkenton

Matt Tarkenton is Executive Vice President at Tarkenton Companies, and has started several businesses and is interested in business formation, strategy, and growth. He was part of a group that started Renova Partners, a boutique investment bank, and was recognized as a “40 Under 40: Up and Comer” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2009. Matt performs business planning and marketing training for hundreds of professionals across the country, and co-hosts a weekly coaching program on entrepreneurial education. Matt graduated from Princeton University, and received an MBA from Harvard Business School. He maintains his Series 7, 63, and 79 licenses, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Youth Villages, on the Education Committee of the National Association of Fixed Annuities (NAFA), and in leadership positions in various organizations.