Remote Time and Attendance

Managing a Connected Remote Team: Strategies and Tools for Success

Our tips for successfully managing your remote team in 2023...
Sean QuinnPosted on Friday, February 24th 2023

The landscape of work has changed dramatically over the past decade, with technological advancement and the pandemic in particular shifting our working behaviours towards the direction of fully remote work. Many businesses are now readjusting with a full or partial return to the office, but employees' expectations have changed. As we look into 2023, it's important to assess the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, as well as finding strategies and management tools that help you get the best from your team, wherever they may be working.

What are employees' expectations for flexible working options?

The vast majority of employees surveyed are keen to see remote working options continue into the future, with 97% agreeing that they'd like to work remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their careers. Businesses are beginning to match this expectation, with 72% planning to permanently allow some form of remote work going forward. This is up from 46% of businesses surveyed in 2021, showing the shift in attitude from employers.

For most employees, the option to work remotely brings multiple benefits. Most employees find they save money on commuting costs, as well as expensive lunches out whilst at the office.  Employees with children are able to save on childcare costs, owing to more time at home during the evenings and school holidays. As a result, the shift to remote work can effectively provide a pay rise, at no cost to the business.

For those who have a longer commute, the ability to work from home can give back hours in the day to either work on personal projects, self care or to spend with friends and family. Greater flexibility for employees improves their work-life balance, and can attract a more diverse pool of candidates to a role, such as those with disabilities or caring responsibilities who may find it difficult to travel to the office 5 days a week.

What are the drawbacks of remote working?

Although the uptake for remote working options has been rapid, employees do have some reservations and may encounter issues which businesses are now working hard to find solutions for.

When employees don't share a physical office space, they may miss out on the social aspect of work, which can be especially difficult for younger employees who rely on networking to advance their career, and benefit from mentoring by more senior staff.

For employees who work from home, the lack of separation between their work life and personal life can also be a challenge. Although the daily commute can be an annoyance, many employees who've made the switch to remote working now miss this time to mentally 'switch off' from work mode at the end of the day, and miss the physical separation of the office and their home life.

Although there has been a widespread attitude shift by managers and business owners, some are still concerned about employee productivity when working remotely. This can lead to micro-management, with some employers going so far as to install screen recording software on employees' work devices to monitor their activity. In order to ensure productivity, most businesses who have successfully moved to hybrid or full remote working have first put into place methods of tracking and reporting on KPIs, so managers can feel assured that their employees' productivity hasn't dropped.

If remote working policies are put into place without proper planning and trust from management, relationships with employees can be severely damaged, which can have a counter-intuitive effect on their motivation and output.

How to manage a connected remote team

When transitioning to remote working, there are practical considerations to be made for employers and employees alike. Having the right digital tools and processes in place before making the switch to hybrid or fully remote working will help to maximise your team's success, and minimise the risk of disruption.

1) Implement time-tracking tools

Though employees may no longer be in the office 9 to 5, keeping track of their hours worked is still important. As businesses adopt more flexible work patterns, such as asynchronous working, it becomes even more important to know who has been working and when.

Most time and attendance systems now include methods for remote employees to clock in, such as mobile apps and web-based time clocks for your desk-based employees. Apps like TimeKeeper also allow for retrospective submission of manual timesheets, so that employees can let their managers know how many hours were spent on each of their projects throughout the week.

Good time tracking allows for greater visibility by management about where time is being spent, and also highlights over-burdened employees who are continuously being pushed into overtime to manage their workload. When working from home, it may be much harder for managers to spot under or over-utilised employees and rectify the issue, so the ability for each team member to submit accurate timesheets remotely is key.

2) Communicate effectively

With teams spread across the country (or even the globe), you'll need to establish a central communication channel to keep everyone up to date and in the loop. The communication software market is vast and continuously growing, so it's best to evaluate a few top tools and choose the option that suits your business.

Slack is often considered a market leader due to the number of other apps it integrates with, and you'll be able to segregate into 'channels' to ensure all of your teams and project groups stay organised. Alternatively, if your whole business is already familiar with Microsoft Teams, you may prefer to utilise their Chat function to keep everything in one place.

3) Set clear and measurable targets

Setting clear and attainable goals is key to keeping everyone motivated and on track when you're not able to physically monitor your employees' productivity.

It's important to decide ahead of time which KPIs you'll be measuring, and to have targets in mind for each one. Scheduling a regular check in with each team to monitor their progress can help to keep momentum, and gives your staff an opportunity to raise any issues which are preventing them performing at their best.

4) Keep meetings to a minimum

For many employees, the 2020 pandemic is synonymous with Zoom meetings. As we were forced to leave the office, most businesses turned to video calling as a way to replace face to face communication.

In 2023, some businesses are making the opposite shift, with e-commerce giant Shopify cancelling all recurring meetings with three or more invitees. This huge move is a response to many employees complaining of 'Zoom fatigue', where large portions of their day are taken up by video meetings which could have been summarised in an email. Having multiple calls in a day can disrupt the flow of work, preventing your team from entering 'deep work' mode.

Video meetings with your team will still be an important part of the work day in 2023, especially for one-to-one check ins and collaborating in smaller working groups, but these calls should be scheduled mindfully - enforcing a company wide 'meeting free' day once a week can be a great opportunity for your team to work uninterrupted.

The bottom line

The shift towards remote working is set to continue, and employees expectations may have changed permanently. Having the right tools in place is key in order to make remote working policies a success for your business.

Want to keep track of your desk based or remote employees? Try a 14 day free trial of TimeKeeper.

Ready to save your
business time and money?