Successfully Managing the Remote Worker

by | Oct 13, 2022 | HR Trends, Workplace Culture

Human Resource managers have consistently been challenged by “productivity paranoia,” a leader’s uncertainty that their people are working as effectively as they could.  This was true even when employees were present in the office eight hours a day but the shift to remote work has brought “productivity paranoia” to a new level. Managers must adjust to new ways of engaging their employees and making sure the work is getting done. A Stanford study of 16,000 employees found productivity increased by 13 percent when staff worked from home.2

If you are a manager that still has that gnawing feeling that your remote workers are not putting their time in maybe try a new approach and consider measuring outcomes and achievements instead of hours clocked by your remote employees. Is the work getting done? Are deadlines being met and a quality product produced?  Then your remote employee is performing and producing.

When leaders are paranoid about employees working from home, it suggests a lack of skills to manage people properly, says Karli Waldon, President and COO of Talent War Group, a management consulting and executive search firm in Austin, Texas.1 “While organizations, in general, are maintaining (or even expanding) their productivity expectations, many are not providing leaders with resources to train, motivate, monitor, coach or mentor their direct reports,” Paul Schempp, a leadership speaker and research professor at the University of Georgia added.1 Companies should consider investing in professional development to assist HR professionals and managers overcome this skills gap and learn important new skills needed to manage the remote/hybrid employee more effectively.

The remote employee may recognize the benefits of working from home, starting with the time to commute to work, but there are potential pitfalls. One major pitfall is the potential of the remote worker to experience isolation and lack of worker community. Employee engagement from managers is a key part to the success of your remote workforce. When workers feel part of the larger business goals and overall direction of the company, they are more engaged and productive.1

The following are three recommendations to address this pitfall:

  1. Regular check-ins with managers and teammates; weekly or bi-weekly meetings.
  2. Collaborating with colleagues over Teams, Zoom or emails; availability on platforms like Teams helps employees get questions answered quickly.
  3. Maintain a schedule that separates work life from family life.

“The common assumption is that remote workers are less productive than those who are in a traditional office. But our ability to capture, integrate, and analyze workplace data shows otherwise,” said Crisantos Hajibrahim, Chief Product Officer at Prodoscore.3  Prodoscore, a leader in employee visibility software, released proprietary data about remote worker productivity and general work trends since the move to remote workforces began a few years ago. At a high level, the data showed a 47% productivity increase in 2020, despite the coronavirus lockdown and the ensuing increase in working from home.3

Whether working from home or on-site the following were found to be consistent through the data:3

  1. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the most productive days, in that order.
  2. Most productive daily time periods are between 10:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  3. Employees whether remote or in office take up to one to three hours to “ramp-up” to being productive.

The new hybrid/remote workplace needs flexibility in management styles and an understanding that your employees want to remain working remote so they will perform. AS managers we need to recognize our employees are people first and find impactful ways to engage and manage them effectively from afar. Finding the balance that works for your team is the key to its success.