Remote management is set to become the future of work.
Beyond the current stay-at-home scenario, more workplaces will be implementing work-from-home policies in the coming months and years.
This opens up opportunities to recruit employees from around the world and to reduce the cost of overheads.
Here are five ways that remote management can be simplified and executed.
1. Use Communication Tools
Communication is key to running a business—from the top-down and laterally, keeping communication lines open is necessary.
When employees are working remotely, managing them can be a challenge. We don’t have the luxury of gathering in a conference room or stopping by someone’s desk for a chat. While phones and emails are still an option, they rarely provide the opportunity to have simultaneously private and shared conversations.
To mitigate such circumstances, it is necessary for companies to use a few communication tools, not only for internal discussions but also for external communication. Software like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Chanty are all easy to use and implement. Many of them have free versions that can be used across the company—though some features may be limited.
Communication software ensures that employees are regularly updated about new policies that may affect their interactions with customers. And there is another deeper reason for maintaining methods of communication, particularly with remote staff. Working from home can feel incredibly isolating. Being away from your colleagues—and from human contact for large parts of the day—can impact mental health and productivity. Communicating regularly thus makes remote management a more successful endeavor for all involved.
2. Hold Remote Management Meetings
Meetings are a part and parcel of working life. But when the majority of teams or employees are working remotely, meetings become that much more crucial.Understanding new changes, airing concerns, or sharing new findings from customer interactions or complaints can all be channeled through meetings. There are a number of video conferencing tools available for holding regular meetings—with entire teams or one-on-one.
Google Hangouts, Skype, and Zoom make video calls much easier to conduct—and allow for numerous members to join in the call, often without too many limitations.
Recent security issues, and an immense number of users, has led to companies sorting through problems and making their technology safer. Meetings can often take up time, but these are the spaces where teams can learn from each other or brainstorm new ideas—a mind map is one such tool for plotting new concepts.
And while it can be tempting for remote managers to hold meetings often, that would be inadvisable. For customer service teams, time can feel constrained. They have customers to get back to and problem-solve with. If that time is spent in meetings, customers might feel like they aren’t being prioritized—which will impact the business’ goodwill. So, it’s important to schedule the right quantity and length of meetings to ensure your team can still serve customers.
3. Implement Multi-Faceted Software
While communication tools are imperative for managing teams remotely, it’s important to look at other kinds of software that can make workflow easier.
Project management tools are excellent for creating collaborative environments for agents who are working from home. This software allows members to tag each other in tasks and set deadlines. For customer service teams, using solutions software to help with monitoring requests, complaints, and relationship statuses improves the way employees get their work done.
For example, companies can benefit from using a web-based marketing automation service like eSputnik to improve their customer service and generate leads. Live chat software is another tool that is quickly becoming the norm for businesses all over the world. With live chats, customers can receive immediate replies to their queries. Numerous chat platforms allow companies to input stock replies for generic or common questions. For more complex issues, the chat can be handed over to a team member.
4. Streamline Response Processes
When your team is working away from the office, it becomes critical to ensure that processes are finely detailed and followed.
From the onboarding process onwards, it is imperative that companies streamline how employees note customer issues and respond to them. All processes should be carefully documented with as much detail as possible, including bullet points and screenshots.
The process for dealing with customer queries, protocols, and decorum should also be clearly outlined.
For instance, what should or should not be said to customers of a certain tier; acceptable instances for new products to be pitched; and when an issue needs to be escalated. These documents should all be available on a shared drive or with on-demand training software so employees can access them whenever needed from wherever they are.
5. Create Remote Company Culture
Just because employees aren’t in the office, doesn’t mean that they can’t join in on company culture.
Chat tools can be used for watercooler conversations so employees can learn more about each other. Online events and meetups can be hosted so employees can enjoy face-to-face conversations with each other.
Company culture needs to be a priority for remote managers to ensure that everyone feels connected to each other and the business.
Remote management has had to come a long way in a very short period of time. But it is also improving the potential for companies to reach new employees and more target markets.
With the above tips for managing work-from-home employees, companies will be better positioned to run their businesses in the future.
About the Author
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, an infographic and design platform. She regularly writes about digital marketing, productivity, pop culture, and representation. Connect on Twitter: @Venngage.