Workforce Management Challenges for Remote Employees

workforce managementRight now, you likely have employees working from their living room alongside those in your conference room. Offering your employees flexibility is a great strategy for attracting the best candidates. In fact, the number of Americans working from home or another remote location at least one day each week is continually increasing. For many successful companies, it’s part of a routine hiring conversation to talk about workplace flexibility.


While working from home offers flexibility for employees, there are workforce management challenges for those overseeing a remote staff. Many employees that are frequently working away from the office say that isolation is an issue. They may also wonder if they are valued and if they are truly part of a team. Managing a virtual team may take some different considerations than those used with an on-site staff.


Here are virtual workforce management suggestions for success:


Create a culture of trust. Trust is important with your employees, and it is especially critical with a virtual employee. If your employee doesn’t answer the phone or seems slow in attending to an email, don’t assume that they are spending their day on a Netflix marathon. This is particularly important if you have on-site employees in the same position. The attitude that a work-from-home employee is less productive will spread, and before long you will witness tension and a team break-down.


It sounds simple, but remember that your virtual employees are entitled to breaks and lunches. Also, an employee in the office naturally spends time visiting at other employees’ cubicles and taking a walk to the vending machines. Allow your virtual employees the same trust and respect that they are doing their job around their break times. It’s helpful to remember that you hired them to do a job, and as long as it is getting done to your satisfaction, it’s not productive to stress about their particular schedule.


Communication: One of the challenges of virtual workplace management is the lack of opportunities for interactions. While in an office, you get regular eye contact and possibly a daily greeting, you could easily go several days without a social interaction with a virtual employee.


Often, emails or texts to a virtual employee get right to the point, without including the greetings or small talk you might have in an office setting. To maintain a healthy level of communication, make a point of reaching out, even with a quick “I saw your project, and it looks great,” or, before launching into a pricing conversation, start your email with a quick greeting and ask your employee if they had a nice weekend. It’s also important to schedule regular opportunities for communication, such as a weekly scheduled phone check-in or a team conference call.


Get the right people on your virtual team. With behavioral assessments, you can determine whether a candidate for a virtual position is a good fit. Virtual work often demands someone highly independent that can, in effect, be their own boss. Many candidates identify themselves as being self-motivated without really knowing if they are, so a behavioral assessment can tell you how they will navigate the freedom and flexibility of working remotely.


The PI System is a behavioral assessment that gives you unique insight into how your candidates will fit in a particular position, and how they will fit in the culture of your organization. At PI Consulting Group, we provide practical results for virtual workforce management. Call us today for an initial consultation.