How To Manage Remote Staff And Get the Best Results

 

manage remote staff

There is a growing trend among companies to integrate a remote staff member within their work force. In 2011, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer introduced a remote worker plan where 10% of staff worked from home. A few years later Meyer increased the distribution to 15%.

While Meyer chose not to maintain the program, other companies such as United Health Group, AETNA, IBM, AMEX and Xerox started their own remote worker programs.

Today, it is estimated that 37% of US workforces are comprised of remote employees. It is estimated that by 2020, the distribution would increase to 50% to 65%.

What is Remote Staff?

A remote staff member is someone who carries out their duties and functions online from a location outside the confines of an office.

They are popularly referred to as virtual assistants and alternatively called telecommuters, home based workers or freelancers.

They are highly skilled; many have had prior experience working in an office environment. People who become virtual assistants build up their competence and expertise from years of working, learning, training and acquiring new skills.

In time, they decide to venture off and cross over from the bricks- and- mortar world to the virtual world.

Over the last 15 years, more people have become virtual assistants because businesses have acknowledged the benefits of outsourcing services to third- party service providers.

Thus, the virtual assistance industry has grown to accommodate people of higher skill and competencies. When you decide to set up virtual staff, you can readily find qualified candidates to fill almost any position your business requires.

Advantages of Having Remote Staff

Companies and businesses regardless of size, scale and type are building their own remote teams because it offers advantages in-house staff cannot. Here are a few of them:

1. Lower Cost

Contracting people who work online will not break the budget because technically, they are self- employed. This means they are not entitled to the usual benefits of a full-time employee and are accountable for their own costs of business.

2. Higher Productivity

By delegating work to remote staff, you can channel more resources to the core functions of your business. You will be able to manage your time better and get more things done. Because they work from home, virtual staff can start work the minute they get out of bed.

3. Improved Quality of Work

As mentioned, virtual assistants are highly skilled and well experienced. They have the expertise and necessary training specific to the tasks you want managed.

4. Lower Attrition Levels

A virtual employee is a happy employee because he or she does not have to deal with the inconveniences that come with an office job. These inconveniences include the daily commute, office politics and day to day expenses. Thus, the turnover rate will be comparatively lower.

5. Greater Work Flexibility

If you have remote staff, you can schedule their shifts according to what you believe would benefit your company the most. For example, you could schedule them to work after office hours to manage customer support. It is also easier to add or subtract virtual employees than full-time employees because there are less legal issues to deal with.

Essential Tips to Manage Your Remote Staff

Despite all the advantages of having a remote team, you will not be able to maximize their skills and abilities if you cannot manage them properly.

Working through the on line world definitely presents unique challenges compared to the brick- and- mortar world. The absence of close, shared space collaboration being one of them.

But with a few simple strategies, you should have no problem getting your virtual staff to be productive:

1. Build Rapport

You can get the best players on the planet together on one team. But if they don’t like each other, you’ll end up a lottery team at the end of the season.

Good rapport within a team is important because it makes communication more efficient and effective. Walls are torn down and people become more comfortable talking and sharing with one another.

However at the same time, institute guidelines for the chain of communication. Proper protocols have to be in place to ensure top level professionalism and conduct.

2. Capitalize on Video Channels

One of the most effective ways to overcome the absence of shared space collaboration is the use of video.

Studies have shown that majority of communication is non-verbal. With video you can assess if the person is fidgeting, uncomfortable or unsure. People are more conscious of what and how they convey their opinions, thoughts and ideas on video.

3. Encourage “One- on- One” Dialogue

An “open door policy” is a great way to foster trust and transparency within a remote team.
You should initiate the process by scheduling time each week for each employee via one on one dialogue. Some people tend to be more comfortable discussing matters in private or in confidence than sharing it with the team.

This is especially true when dealing with sensitive issues. If you decide to implement one- on- one sessions with your team members, do not cancel them! Make sure everyone has the opportunity to be heard.

4. Give Credit When it is Due

Even the slightest show of appreciation can reap gigantic benefits for your business. The most common misconception about workers in general, is that they only care about the money.

The truth is, many crave validation for what they do or for what they have done. It is a basic human quality to be acknowledged for fine performance. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or costly.

You can simply send a congratulatory GIF or emoticon to a virtual team member who accomplished an important task. If you have a virtual bulletin board, post appreciative messages for the team and let them know you greatly value their time and effort.

5. Take the Time to Get to Know Them

At the core of virtual assistance are people with back stories. Take the time to get to know them. This way, you develop an understanding on how to approach them and extract greater productivity.

This is especially true if you contract virtual assistants from remote locations such as the Philippines and India. You will greatly lower your costs but you have to deal with the challenges of cultural and social differences.

Assembling a team of remote staff can help take your business to the next level.

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