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5 Essential Tips for Managing Remote Employees

The study of management focuses on leadership, behavior and motivation. The shift to remote work caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into typical management practices. The new normal of remote work has also revealed some best practices for organizational adaptation in times of disruption.

The coursework of advanced degree programs like the online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Concentration in Management program at Southeastern Oklahoma State University helps professionals determine how to connect and motivate people during challenging times.

These best practices for the remote work environment align with a social approach to management and prioritize improving the employee experience: 

  1. Communication Is Everything

Good communication has always been integral to strong leadership. The remote work culture, however, challenges the traditional lines of communication. Face-to-face meetings and informal hallway interactions are no longer the norm. Gone are the in-person social gatherings after work that helped employees build genuine relationships.

Managers must now balance formal and informal communications more carefully. This means setting regular, virtual meetings for individuals, teams and entire companies. Such meetings facilitate the dissemination of information, goals and expectations. They can also reinforce company culture and the employee experience.

Good, virtual communication also means encouraging employees to check in with each other.

  1. Focus on Connections

Collaboration is essential to a team’s productivity, and teamwork depends on relationships and interpersonal communication. Since workers cannot meet in person, videoconferencing and remote software integration are necessary components. Managers should use these platforms to create opportunities for socializing, informal debriefing and formal business operations.

Encourage teams to attend virtual happy hours. Set up trivia games and quizzes that bridge departments and functions to broaden connections across the organization. 

Importantly, however, don’t make these chances to connect seem like another obligation. Create these opportunities during work hours and celebrate active participation with recognition and rewards. Make connection-building a positive aspect of the company culture.

  1. Listen to Your Employees

Active listening is essential to good communication, so engage in two-way conversations. Ask for feedback and take action accordingly. Find out which remote-work accommodations employees feel are working well and which ones aren’t. Do employees feel motivated and engaged in their work?

Listening is always integral to effective management. Under challenging working conditions such as full-time remote work, however, listening is even more important, as it combats isolation and contributes to employees’ well-being.

  1. Give Employees the Right Tools and Resources

Managers need to equip employees with the assets they need to work from home effectively. This includes tools like videoconferencing platforms, collaborative virtual-team programs, instant messaging systems and virtual private networks.

Try not to burden employees with too many applications. Ensure that employees get the necessary training to use these systems effectively, and provide the equipment and services necessary for remote work like additional monitors and Bluetooth-enabled headsets and cameras.

  1. Be Flexible and Empathetic

Empathy and flexibility are critical characteristics for managers of a remote workforce. This transition can be stressful, and the many hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbate the situation.

Remote work alleviates the need for stringent, in-office schedules. As such, flexible managers can allow employees to plan work around the demands of their home lives. They can support innovation and motivate employees to take productive risks by celebrating successes and new ideas. Additionally, share expectations for employee productivity, but focus on objectives, output and quality of work rather than processes and traditional timeframes.

Remember that remote work and uncertainty can also reduce an employee’s willingness to take risks, which inhibits innovation. Working from home can also make maintaining a healthy work-life balance nearly impossible, so encourage employees to take breaks, exercise and practice self-care. Overall, empathetic management, effective communication and human connections can all help organizations maintain continuity and a positive company culture.

Given these benefits and remote work’s inherent adaptability to future disruption, the transition to working from home will likely shape future business models. By understanding this shift as an opportunity to improve the employee experience and effect positive organizational change, managers can help businesses emerge from these difficult times stronger and more resilient than ever.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s MBA with a Concentration in Management online program.


Gartner: 9 Tips for Managing Remote Employees

SHRM: 10 Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Workers

The Muse: 6 Tips for Managing Your Newly Remote Team During Coronavirus


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