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Remote work is the new norm for the vast majority of the American workforce. In 2017, nearly 3.9 million workers reported that they worked from home; a 115% increase since 2005.

As a team leader, it can be a huge challenge to work with long-distance employees, let alone ensuring if they’re working productively. It’s not an impossible task, but it means you need to employ a more helpful tool.


Here are a few strategies on how to empower remote employees to improve productivity:


1. Establish a Progress Tracking Process

Lack of milestones and clearly defined goals are the main reasons why many projects fail. This means managers need to be clear about their expectations so that employees can continue to work well. This also enables you to maintain expectations, track progress on each members’ efforts, whether from in-office or remotely.


Some expectations that you need to set while tracking productivity and progress include:

– What hope do you have in terms of reporting, i.e., daily, weekly, monthly, etc.?
– Do you require weekly reports?
– What milestones need reporting?
– How will success be measured?
– Should all project-related discussion occur on the project management tool?

When remote team members understand the process, they can be productive with productivity.


2. Utilize Project Management Tools

Project management tools are must for remote teams. It is a unified platform to give and receive feedback, track progress and collect documentation. It’s also easier to implement and enforce procedures with a company-wide tool.

Choosing a specific project management software will depend on the resources and specific needs of your company. A useful tool acts like an “all in one” hub for both in-house and work-from-home employees as it provides a unified platform to stay connected, collaborate and track progress.


3. Skip Acting like a ‘Helicopter Manager’

According to results from a two year Stanford study, remote workers are far more productive than their in-office counterparts. This jump in productivity can amount to an entire day’s work. The simple takeaway from this stat is micromanagement never works. This behavior is counterproductive and severely undermines the autonomy that distance employees value.

When you use a project management tool to track employee’s output, there’s no reason to become a ‘helicopter manager.’ You can focus on including collaboration into how you manage your team.


4. Provide Consistent Constructive Feedback

As a manager, always promote a feedback-driven environment, especially when dealing with remote employees. Keep in mind, and these employees won’t be able to receive pats on the back or verbal smiles/praises for good work. When they’re aware of how they’re performing, they can improve their on-the-job performance and enhance productivity.

Consistent, constructive feedback achieves two feats: fixes mistakes and inspires improved work. Find a balance between providing constructive criticism and praising your remote team. When you provide positive feedback all the time, you’re not indicating how an employee can improve. Too much negative criticism does nothing but discouraging.

Use your project management tool to schedule regular, feedback meetings with your remote team.


5. Make Communication Transparent

Communication with remote teams should enable transparency from both the organizational and management level. This ensures everyone is working on the same goals and it’s necessary for the mental well-being of your team.

A 2017 study involving 1,100 remote employees found that up to 75% of remote employees felt their colleagues made changes and adjustments to projects without notifying them; making them feel left out. If remote teams are not kept in the loop, they lose motivation and productivity very quickly.

With regular and transparent communication, many of these issues can be circumvented. Be transparent in how you communicate and where to reach you. Hold “virtual office hours” outside of regular meetings to help keep remote workers in the loop. Don’t forget to check with remote teams about how they prefer to communicate, i.e., phone, video call, chat, etc.

Organizations also need to keep remote updated on company goals and priorities. You can provide these via organization-wide emails, monthly/weekly newsletters, etc.

Now you can empower your remote employees more efficiently with project management software. Get in touch with ViduPM learn more.