Managing of employees scattered in different time zones and who come from diverse backgrounds and cultures can be very challenging. The setup is so different from that of a regular office, where you can work together in one place and within one schedule. Monitoring employee behavior and performance is so much easier when you can physically get in touch with each other, and providing coaching and motivation can be challenging too. However, there are ways to go about these obstacles to ensure that you are able to manage and motivate your virtual employees well.
1. Set out the rules at the beginning of employment.
Setting of the proper expectations when you hire your virtual employee is very important. In fact, as early as the hiring process, you should already let the potential candidate know how many hours you need him to work in a day, during what hours he needs to work, what his basic job description is, and what his expected output is at the end of the day. Allow him to ask questions so that he can have a clear grasp of his responsibilities before you accept them into your group.
2. Use technology to track employee performance and progress.
There are many available resources on the internet that will enable you to keep track of your virtual employees’ output and progress. While there are software applications specifically for the purpose of tracking your employees’ productivity and remotely monitoring their computer screens, you can also use free software such as Google Docs to have a simplified tracking system. Create an Excel tracker for the various things that they need to complete and work on. Use file sharing programs to transfer documents and gather their work.
3. Trust your employees and concentrate on the results instead of the process.
Constantly wanting to monitor your virtual employees is not only unhealthy for your worker-employee relationship, it is also a productivity killer for you especially if you have a large team. Avoid spying on them all the time because it will only drive you crazy. The reality is that there are a lot of distractions available for people who work at home. You need to trust your employees and focus instead on the quality of the work that they turn in instead. Was it done to the best of their abilities and within the guidelines that you have set? Does it meet your standards? Were they able to deliver according to expectations? If the answer is yes to all of these, then you shouldn’t be worried about your virtual employees. They are performing as expected.
4. Submitting reports is a must.
To keep track of your employees’ problems and progress, ask them to regularly submit reports that contain the achievement of their tasks, some issues that they’ve encountered, and if they have resolved these issue or if they need your help. Through these reports, you can get a peek at what they are doing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis without being too imposing.
5. Open the lines of communication and do regular follow-ups.
Communicating online through the Internet has become very easy these days. Aside from sending email or chatting with your employees, it would be so much better if you can set a schedule for face-to-face communication once in a while. This humanizes you to your employees and vice versa. Remind them once in a while that there is a person behind the emailed instructions, and acknowledge them too.
Have a regular follow-up schedule for them to make them feel that their work is important and that it matters. Sometimes, when people hide behind computer screens too much, they treat each other as nothing more than machines. Try to change this notion and remind your virtual employees that there is someone who actually notices their hard work.
If your budget allows, it would also be nice to meet your virtual employees at least once. A personal meeting means that you are going out of your way to extend time and appreciation to your employees.
Follow these tips and managing your employees will surely become easier for you. Our friends over at www.findmyworkspace.com share the best ways to guide your employees so they can achieve their true potential.