What entrepreneurs need to know about managing remote employees

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It's crucial for the success of a team for entrepreneurs to know how to manage their remote employees. A recent study revealed helpful insights into the life and work styles of remote employees.
Team meeting with remote employee.

This year, Buffer released its State of Remote Work 2018 Report which takes a close look at the life of a remote worker in 2018. The report surveyed 1,900 individuals that work remotely around the globe, covering every topic from job satisfaction to income.

For entrepreneurs who employ remote employees, this report may be one of their greatest assets when it comes to managing their team. Remote management is not a one-size-fits-all situation: you can’t just send a couple of emails and call it a day.

This is a two-way relationship where employees must be as accountable and reliable as their managers. In turn, managers have to extend the same courtesy and make sure the employees feel like they are part of the company’s culture.

But what do remote employees really want? If you’re already managing remote workers and want to get a bit of insight into their needs, here’s what you need to know.

Remote employees may be lonelier than you think

According to the report, one of the biggest struggles remote workers face, at 21%, is loneliness. Also tying at 21% is collaborating and communicating. Seventy-eight percent of remote employees work from home.

No matter how productive or creative the worker may be, there comes a time – particularly for single remote workers – when it’s easy to feel isolated. It also grows difficult to maintain a work / life balance when your work is conducted a few feet from where you sleep.

Beyond assignments and workplace topics, check in with your remote workers through FaceTime or Skype to see how they are doing. Encourage them to come to you if they feel lonely or are struggling to communicate. Listen and offer solutions to the problem to the best of your ability. Email your workers a virtual Starbucks gift card so they can work from a cafe space for a week.

If they are having difficulty collaborating with another worker, talk to the worker and see what can be done to make it easier for everyone. Or, take a cue from Buffer, which employs remote workers around the world and encourages those in the same communities to “meet” for virtual coffee together.

They tend to skimp on vacations

While vacation time and paid time off in general differ depending on the business, remote workers remain reluctant to take too much time off. In fact, 55% of those polled by Buffer stated they took less than 15 vacation days a year. Only 11% of remote workers consider more than 30 days of vacation to be the standard. Even when they take the time off, they’re not likely to travel without their laptops and smartphones – just in case there’s a work emergency.

Just as much as you would encourage in-house workers to use their vacation time, so you should do the same with remote employees. Do your best to avoid contacting them while they are away unless absolutely necessary. This gives them less opportunities to face a screen and do work and more chances to get out there and enjoy being unplugged.

The best remote employee might just be the one you have in-house

Have you ever stopped to consider that the greatest remote workers might just be the ones you physically work alongside with in the office? The State of Remote Work 2018 Report notes that this year may be the one where in-house employees request to go remote. They might have noticed some of the benefits of being a remote employee – which include flexible scheduling and the ability to travel and spend time with family – and would like to explore that possibility for themselves.

If that sounds like something you would be able to accommodate for your team members, you may want to start them off on a trial remote work basis and see how it goes. Should the experience go smoothly and prove to be a win-win for everyone, you might just decide to employ them remotely full-time.

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Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services.

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