This month I am happy to introduce you to my guest blogger, Alexander Maasik.  Alex is a journalist based in Estonia who has established a process to help managers work more effectively with a remote workforce.  In this article, Alex shares insights into the growth of remote working and four tips to manage teams working remotely more effectively.

You may be thinking this is a little different from my usual posts about personal leadership – and you are right in thinking so.  However I thought you might find it interesting and useful to consider the topic of how to manage a team who you may have working remotely.

A lot of companies of all sizes across the globe have started tapping into the global pool of knowledge and implemented some form of remote working in their businesses. Working remotely has many perks for both the company and the employee but these perks come with greater management challenges. You must be sure your company can take them.

Telecommuting means, we no longer have the need to hire the best in our city or even our country. The global workforce is 4.6 billion people and 20% of those people work remotely. This means, we can find the person who best suits us, who is the best in the world, and make sure our workforce is the ideal one for our company.

Remote workers also mean an overall decrease in costs (which is especially important to smaller businesses). You save money on office space, utilities and furniture. You also don’t have to worry about excuses like “weather was too bad to come to work.” or “my car broke down.” Studies also show that remote employees work longer and take fewer breaks.

Employees like it for a lot of reasons. 55% of people like it that there is no commute time, 40% say they get more sleep. In all, 63% of people say they have a more positive attitude toward their work.

Remote management

But managing a remote team is a little more complicated than managing an office. It’s vital to use online collaboration and status reporting tools to make sure everybody knows what’s going on. You must remember that despite not working in the office, your employees still expect to have the same level of networking and collaboration opportunities.

Being a good remote manager requires a lot of work.

  1. Let employees know what you expect

If it’s important that they be available from 9 to 5 like in the office, then they must know that from the start. It’s also important to let them know early, what are the meetings or days they absolutely must attend the office.

  1. Be available at the right time

Make sure your employees know when you’re available for phone calls or video conferences to discuss their problems and work. And then make sure you really are. If you keep cancelling employee time, it has the same effect as a cancelled one-on-one meetings: the employee feels unimportant and less engaged.

  1. Have a plan

Juggling the flexible work hours with consistency in every day’s work can be hard. For that you need a concrete plan.

Develop a plan with milestones and deadlines and discuss the plan with your team. Make sure they understand what they must do and they are confident that they can do it.

  1. Choose the right tools

Remote working arrangements require a lot of technological solutions. Your workers must give reports, get feedback, and collaborate with each other and yourself. You must still have a clear idea of what’s going on and how it helps to accomplish company’s goals.

In Weekdone, weekly status report software, we have created a social media like feel for the app. Employees can comment on other people’s tasks, achievements and problems. This system suits especially well with younger generations who are used to spending their time on Facebook or Twitter.

All in all, the pros of remote working clearly outweighs the challenges. Having access to a more diverse workforce allows a company to have a lot more talent. That is an important key to success.

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Alexander Maasik is a communication specialist and content creator at Weekdone  –  weekly employee progress reports. Alexander has a degree in journalism and public relations and a strong passion for internal communications and online collaboration. Connect with @weekdone on Twitter.