Tips for managing a remote workforce

Jason Downes
Christmas Eve Get Away Before National Rail Starts Mass Engineering Repairs
Source: Getty

Waterloo Station upgrade works are well underway, forcing thousands of workers to come to terms with severe disruption to their commutes.

Inevitably, plenty of workforces are missing out on valuable working hours, but the interruptions should not be seen by employers as an inconvenience. Instead they should be seen as an opportunity to increase productivity.

It’s not a case of conceding that less work will be done because of delayed journeys, because now is the perfect time for employers to implement an official remote working policy. But how can you do so and ensure productivity remains high?

Read more: One extra day of Waterloo travel trouble as upgrade closure is extended

Clear communication

Establishing clear communication between all team members is fundamental to a productive and effective remote working strategy. Many employers worry that if their team isn’t in the office, they can’t monitor workloads and progress.

Implement a formal internal communications plan for the team during remote working periods. This should be clearly defined and can include simple tools, such as a WhatsApp or Slack group, or by simply ensuring the team’s mobile numbers are available.

Messaging apps are often dismissed as “social platforms”, but they’re far quicker and more effective than an email when it comes to quick questions and updates.

Develop a culture of trust

One of the biggest barriers to employers embracing remote and flexible working is the assumption that employees won’t be as productive.

In fact, our research found that more than half of employees believe they would be more productive if they could spend some time working away from the office.

With employers’ scepticism about flexible working comes a tendency to micro-manage – which employees resent. Instead, creating trust by empowering your team to manage their own time, and work in a way which suits them, will create a culture where everyone is motivated to do well and prove themselves. Of course, when employees are managing their own time, clear targets and deadlines are even more important.

Maintain team rapport

If your team members are working remotely or flexibly on certain days, it’s important to put extra effort into building team rapport.

Isolation should not be a problem, provided remote working is managed correctly. But to ensure every individual feels that they are contributing to the team’s success, managers and employers must involve everyone as often as possible. Quick roundup emails, progress updates and team highlights ensure everyone feels involved in the team’s long term goals.

Having a messaging channel for team dialogue that isn’t work related helps create a sense of community. Add to this plenty of face-to-face team catch-ups, and you’re creating a wonderful team culture that can embrace flexibility.

Make the most of technology

Modern workforces benefit from instant messaging platforms, free conference call technology and collaborative working tools – all of which are crucial to a remote working strategy.

By getting caught up in a lack of face time with colleagues, or how you’re going to conduct that meeting with your team scattered across London, it’s easy to forget that every single one of them is just a phone call away.

Structured team calls are often a lot more efficient than dragging everyone into a meeting room – especially after a long and stressful commute.