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Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.netThanks to advances in technology, these days, there are many roles that can be performed without ever having to step foot in an office.  In fact, work-from-home or remote positions have increased by 115 percent since 2005, about 10 times faster than the rest of workforce, according to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. Around 3 percent of employees work from home at least half of the time.

While working remotely has its benefits, such as increased productivity, it does present a few challenges. One of those is how to manage a team when no one ever sees each other in person.

Define Expectations

Your employees need to know what they are expected to do each week, when assignments are due, and what your other expectations are for the week. Work with your team to set goals for performance and to set specific target dates for those goals. Have a plan for the week ahead, the month ahead, and the year ahead, and go from there.

Using a project management system, like Basecamp, can help keep everyone on course and help you define and manage expectations. You can use the program to assign tasks, communicate with your team, and keep track of client preferences.

Stay in Contact

When you aren’t seeing your employees daily, you’ll need to make an extra effort to keep lines of communication open with them. Luckily, there are many ways to stay in touch with your team, even if half of you are on the east coast and the other half are on the west coast. Slack is a great tool for chatting with your team, no matter what time of day. You can use Skype or Google Hangouts to schedule video conferences or the regular phone for quick check-ins when needed.

Video can be particularly useful when managing a remote team, as you’ll be able to show, not tell, your employees about current projects. You’ll be able to share screenshots with them on the video or can use other visual aids throughout the conference.

Get to Know Your Team

Another downside of remote work is that the social aspect of working in an office is gone. Remote workers don’t really get to stand around in the break room, talking about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”

That means you’ll need to make an extra effort to get to know your team members, so that they don’t feel like just a number. Getting to know your team also helps them feel more part of the company and that their work and input is valued. Take a few minutes for an icebreaker at the start of video conferences or other phone or chat check-ins. You can also record everyone’s birthday and send a card or other type of gift to employees on their birthdays. The same goes for holiday cards and gifts.

Check in From Time to Time

Although working from home has its benefits, it can be helpful to schedule in-person check ins with your team members from time to time. Those in-person meetings help your employees feel more like they are part of the company and can also be helpful for keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to what’s going on in the business.

These meetings don’t have to take place very often, but they should be regular and anticipated. For example, when you hire someone, you can let him or her know that there’s a semi-annual all hands, in person meeting.

Hire the Right People

One way to make managing a remote team easier is to hire the right people for that team. You don’t want to have to micro-manage your work-from-home employees, so it’s important to hire people that can get their work done without having someone looking over their shoulder. Ideally, your work-from-home employees will be able to work independently, will be self-motivated and organized.

Another thing to think about when hiring a person for a remote job is whether that person will do well working solo on a regular basis. While some people are happy to work on their own, plenty of others thrive on the social interactions of an office. Those social butterflies might struggle if they need to work in a quiet setting everyday.

New Direction Capital‘s virtual CFO services are here to help you grow and manage your business. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact us today.

Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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