How to best manage remote workers
Arrowhead is no stranger to managing remote workers. Our Automotive Aftermarket Insurance Program has over 80 account executives across the country and our various business units have teammates working from home a few days a week to help with their work/life balance. Here we’ve curated a list of top tips, many of which we’ve put in to practice.
Unless you’re a call center, your agents are on the road constantly, visiting clients. They may only appear in your office two or three days a week. You may have other employees – account managers, for instance, who work remotely full time. And this applies not only to your agency, but also to your commercial lines clients as well.
Nowadays, employees no longer live within the four walls of their office for eight-plus hours a day – even those with straight-up desk jobs. To remain competitive in today’s market, many employers have embraced the philosophy of work-life balance by allowing employees to work remotely, at least part time.
And employees are relishing their remote status, saying they can power through more tasks with fewer interruptions, leading to greater productivity and job satisfaction. On the other hand, managers sometimes feel it’s tough to ensure work is being done timely, and it’s easy for full-time remote employees to feel disconnected from their team.
A remote workforce isn’t the best solution for every agency or business. However, if you have remote employees, we’ve assembled some tips and best practices just for you. Feel free to pass these along to your commercial clients as well.
How to manage remote workers – those “invisible” employees
- Make every effort to communicate with them, using more than one channel (email, phone, video conference, Google Hangout, etc.)
- Think outside the email: Bring these employees in at least once a year for face-to-face team meetings, or go to their locations yourself, says Interact as reported by Carrier Management.
- Allow for work to be completed at all hours of the day, to fit those flex schedules
- Consider using project management software to make it easier to keep tabs on workloads and accomplishments. Choose software that allows for logging time spent on each project or task, to keep an eye on idle time.
- Time zones: be aware of all time zones your employees work from, and schedule any meetings and deadlines accordingly
- Ensure all remote workers have multiple ways to get in touch with you. Monitor those channels continually and respond as soon as possible, even if it’s to say “I can’t reply in depth right now, but I’ll get back to you in an hour.”
Hire the right workers
- An independent streak. Look for those who have shown a high level of independence in career thus far, and don’t need a lot of supervision. A good bet is someone who’s made several lateral moves within a company, showing a desire to take on new challenges, says Cox Business
- Millennials. Today’s younger workers choose the ability to work remotely as the ideal set up, many times choosing this benefit over a higher salary.
Provide the right tools
- Cloud-based software, email, shared data drives, Skype and instant messaging platforms are crucial to fast communication, as are cell phones and texting.
- Video conferencing is also important, particularly if any workers are 100 percent remote. Seeing team members face-to-face promotes greater collaboration and sense of community
- Choose your cloud-based software carefully
- Make sure all remote employees have up-to-date security software
- Communicate well with employees that any secure information should only be shared via secure methods and sites.
- Schedule regular meetings. These meetings should be to convey vital information, to ensure everyone’s on the same page; to talk about roadblocks and milestones; and to brainstorm on lighter subjects, says StrategyDriven
“Unhappy employees who are disconnected from their managers and the company cannot take ownership of the mission, goals or big picture, which is the minimum requirement for the kind of engagement that impacts a company’s bottom line,” said Lou Solomon, CEO and Founder of Interact, as reported in Carrier Management. “Today it is standard practice for corporations to have people scattered across the country and around the globe, but the success of any culture still rests on relationships and human engagement.” Agency owners, we hope these tips will help you better manage remote workers.