This article comes from Entrepreneur.
We’ve been able to successfully address this drift by using some common sense management techniques.
Remote workers must make daily judgments regarding which communication tool to prioritize over others. If you’re currently using a mix of tools such as email, Slack, WebEx, Skype and Instant Messages, your employees are faced with multiple demands on their time that causes their attention to drift.
Try setting a priority for each tool so that the response expectations are clear. For example, we’ve simplified our communication use to focus on three core tools. Our first priority is Twist as our internal communications tool. Twist is similar to Slack and allows you to set up channels and threads for groups and topics, but also incorporates instant messaging for individuals and teams. Next is email, which we use when there is a need to add an external customer or partner to the conversation. For our shared calendar we use TeamUP, so it’s clear where our management team is deployed.
By setting the right priority, each employee understands where to focus their energy and attention on a daily basis.
Measuring productivity can be a challenge with remote workers unless the metrics are set and check-ins are done consistently. Employees should clearly understand what is expected, and they should have a set schedule to discuss their progress with their manager.
We use a combination of reporting tools to drive productivity. Written weekly reports — due each Friday — provide a method to document OKRs (objectives and key results), customer issues and resolutions, and any additional resource needs. This is coupled with bi-weekly one-on-one sessions for our managers and a monthly leadership meeting where we reflect on the big picture and ensure our team is aligned with the company’s goals.
The combination of written reports with individual and group meetings builds engagement and focus. This ensures our employees can remain productive regardless of their physical location and helps them avoid drifting towards less valuable work
Service companies rely on real-time information sharing to solve customer concerns quickly before they grow into expensive problems. But, remote workers can become distracted and drift away from established documentation standards, which can lead to gaps in shared knowledge that may be essential to problem-solving.
It’s important to enforce a company standard for information sharing and documentation and monitor adherence frequently. You can add this to your one-on-one agenda and monthly meetings so that reinforcement is delivered consistently.
Unfortunately, not every employee can succeed as a remote worker and your recruiting efforts should screen for the appropriate character traits. Remote workers are self-motivated, independent, responsible, confident and have high personal standards for the quality and caliber of their work.
If you find yourself wondering whether your remote worker has gone missing for the day, you may need to up the stakes on accountability through online timekeeping, random calls or establishing a daily check-in schedule. Building trust requires effort from both the employer and the employee, but don’t wait too long to address your concerns. Trust can drift away as more time passes.
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