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    Top Tips for Managing Your Online Workforce

    on 23 May 2018

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    Posted by Sam Abrahams

    As more and more companies are switching to remote workers for many positions, businesses are seeing the advantages. From saving money on office space to being able to attract highly skilled workers from across a wider geographic region, telecommuting is proving to be attractive for both employees and employers. Now the challenge is for management to keep up with their evolving workforce to keep employees as happy and productive as possible. Here are tips for making the most of your online workforce.

    Use the Right Software

    Today’s businesses rely on having the correct tools to use, just like they always have in the past. The good news for companies is that instead of having to buy and maintain expensive computer servers and networks, they can usually rely on a good internet connection and the proper software.

    The important thing for remote workers is having software to perform several vital functions. Secure file storage and back-up is key and, for most companies, this is easily done on the cloud. Next, employees need ways to track and follow their projects and work assignments. Depending on the type of work the company performs, this could be done on a cloud-based spreadsheet or using an online project management software system. These systems allow managers and employees to remain up-to-date on what work remains to be done and on upcoming project deadlines and milestones.

    The final essential type of software is communication. In some cases, email will suffice. For most businesses, however, a chat or messaging system is also vital. This is often overlooked by businesses but for teams to work well together remotely, there should be a combination of more formal and casual types of communication. Chat boards can be particularly good for employees seeking information about a particular matter or trying to build a consensus. Using email, instead, can lead employees to tune out or become annoyed as their inbox fills with replies back and forth. In addition, overwhelming amounts of email can cause employees to miss seeing critical emails as they arrive.

    Stay in Touch

    After giving your team access to the software they need, you may think your work is done. Actually, the tricky part is following up with your employees on an ongoing basis. You want to make sure they are making progress and you are available to address any problems or concerns they may have. Don’t rely solely on checking your project management system to make sure deadlines are being met. Project management systems provide great tracking information but don’t necessarily provide you with a full picture.

    Check in with your employees periodically to make sure things are going well. You don’t want this to seem like a weekly or monthly inquisition. Instead, you want to provide one-on-one contact as an opportunity for employees to provide any comments or updates they think are important while you have a chance to provide positive feedback. That could allow you to discover employees who are meeting deadlines but have secretly been struggling to keep up or projects. Other workers may have projects that are taking far less time than expected, unexpectedly freeing up their time to take on additional work assignments. Often employees are reluctant to instigate contact with managers if they only have minor questions so those issues can go unaddressed unless they employees have regular contact with their supervisors.

    Give Team Feedback

    Individual comments, compliments, and suggestions are important. That can inspire workers to improve, remain motivated, and keep on track. At the same time, don’t forget to provide team feedback. Recognizing individual employees in front of other employees will give greater weight to your compliments and recognition. It can help inspire other employees to worker harder or smarter with hopes that their work will be recognized next.

    Providing congratulations to your team for their overall success is important to help build teamwork while you are boosting everyone’s confidence and dedication. Taking a moment to provide this type of positive feedback will help to break up work that is beginning to seem monotonous. That can keep momentum going for your team’s projects and keep your team motivated. This is particularly critical for projects that require considerable time and resources before employees reach important milestones or begin seeing the results of their labours. Finding an excuse to rally your team can make all the difference in both the near-term success of your company’s projects and in your ability to retain outstanding employees.