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How To Successfully Manage Virtual Employees

11.24.2016

We live in an age ruled by technology where everything seems to happen online and is enabled by personalized computers. All you need is a laptop and Internet access to be connected to everyone all around the world, no matter your location. Therefore, working from a remote location is something that advanced technology has allowed us to do in the 21st century. Companies large or small have used the perks of virtual employment where everything is managed online. Many outsourcing agencies work overseas and do their work online, starting from conference calls to in-between-employee consultations, while most of them have never met each other in person. In this case, every challenge that a company comes across is resolved online, since often times there’s no other way.

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 A virtual employee is generally presented with a choice - whether to work from home or from an office environment (if one is available). Sometimes single parents, or people who commute long distances will more likely choose to do the work from their home.

Stubborn managerial behavior such as obliging your employees to work in-house will limit your exposure to valuable, talented employees who in reality do not have the conditions to come in the office every day. You have to accept the fact that if employees do not come to the office, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t being productive while working from home. Managing such an employee is no easy task, so there are some points that should to be taken into consideration in order for you to be a successful virtual (and in-house) manager! 

  • Set Goals and Require Reports

 It is your obligation to clearly identify what your employees’ daily or weekly goals and aims are, while it is their responsibility to achieve them. If you create and require a daily or weekly report concerning the actual work that has been done, you will have a great insight into their progress, such as: how much time your employees spend on completing each task. You will see if they are productive and efficient; if they reach or surpass their set standards, feel confident that they are a great asset that your company can continue to trust. 

  • Trust Your Employees

 Without mutual trust, there isn’t a chance to achieve any type of collaboration with your employees. If you do not trust that they are doing their job from home and feel that they may instead be enjoying a long (costly to you) holiday, then they shouldn’t be a part of your team. If there isn’t mutual trust between the employees and the management team, there is no chance for success. Management should judge the ability of the employee according to the results shown by their productivity and reports, rather than making judgments according to their presence in the office. In fact, employees who are more efficient but work less hours often outperform employees who are simply ‘killing time’ in the office until the final tick of the clock! 

  • Communication Through Video-Conferences and Calls

 The most common type of communication between managers and employees happens through email, don’t you agree? Well, if you are a manager in a company that has virtual employees there are some changes that you’ll need to make. Instead of communicating strictly through email, you should switch to “Facetime”, “Skype” or any type of face-to-face call, where you can at least see your employees’ faces on the screen while having a brief talk. That way you can see your employee’s facial expressions as well as reduce the occurrence of misunderstandings that are so common with email communication. A video chat from time to time also gives your employees a sense of reassurance that they’re part of a real team, as it’s important to maintain a strong team environment even when your employees aren’t in the same location. 

  • Organize Team Building Events to Engage Employees 

Employees who work from home may often feel left out from all the office occurrences and events for instance all of the holiday or various celebrations that create strong bonds between the employees, making them feel like a part of a big family. In order for such to not alienate virtual employees, management should organize events outside of the office, so everyone has a chance to attend. A team building event which will at the same time celebrate an employee’s birthday or achievement of certain goals can be a great way to connect both your in-house as well as the virtual employees. 

  • Have a Tech Team on Stand-by

 No matter what advanced technology your company or virtual employees use, there will be times when they’ll have to deal with some technology problems or an unexpected crash outside of their control. Since such things can occur at a moments notice, management should be flexible, tolerant, and always prepared to deal with such events. Whenever you have virtual employees, you should always consider a ‘safety net’ in the form of a tech team that can bail you out of any sudden circumstances.

 

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Sources:

http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/workforce-management/employee-performance-management/virtual-management.aspx

https://www.eremedia.com/tlnt/5-field-tested-methods-for-managing-virtual-employees/

http://www.forbes.com/2006/07/26/leadership-fiveways-management-cx_tw_0727virtual.html