Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Prior to the pandemic, only 6% of employees worked from home. Now, it’s expected that by 2025 more than 36.2 million Americans will work from home—an 87% increase from before the pandemic. Failing to enact best practices for managing remote employees at your organization can quickly lead to them feeling neglected and disengaged.

Whether your organization has five or 500 remote workers, it’s important to learn how to manage them effectively and prevent disengagement. As you implement and maintain remote worker best practices, you can grow your reputation as a great place to work, attract top candidates from around the world, and retain the exceptional people you already have on your remote team.

Managing remote employees boils down to two elements: connection and collaboration. If you can help your remote workers feel connected to the rest of the team and find opportunities to collaborate on important projects, then you’re doing it right.

If you think some of your remote team members may be struggling, you know what to check on first: Are they connected? Are they collaborating? Your people matter most, after all. Learn how BambooHR can free up your time so you can focus on them, instead of manual HR tasks.

10 Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

1. Invest in the Right Tools

Whether your employees work from home a few days a week or full-time, having the right tools to do their best work is crucial. The tools below can help increase productivity, collaboration, and the overall employee experience:

With plenty of options to choose from, finding tools that work together to create a seamless experience for your employees can be a gamechanger. Check out how BambooHR brings HR tools together in one place to help you focus on setting you and your organization free to do great work.

2. Facilitate Strong Personal Connections

Positive relationships at work are a key ingredient for establishing and maintaining high employee engagement. In fact, Gallup found that having close friendships at work can boost employees’ overall satisfaction with their organization. Gallup explains those employees who have friendships at work are more likely to:

For remote workers, fewer in-person interactions with coworkers makes establishing those connections and friendships even more crucial. At the same time, the limited opportunity for casual interactions with colleagues means creating and maintaining those kinds of relationships takes much more conscious effort.

Without managers, team members, and the organization’s leaders putting in the time and effort to foster relationships with remote employees, it’s all too easy for those workers to feel isolated and left out.

3. Be Intentional About Team Collaboration

While some collaboration happens in scheduled meetings or formal brainstorming sessions, much of it happens during organic, casual conversations that spring up outside of formal meetings.

Remote employees need to feel a professional connection to their organization through collaboration to do their best work. If teams don’t make a sustained effort to collaborate and communicate with their off-site coworkers, they may move decisions and projects forward without consulting everyone who should be involved. In fact, 86% of respondents in a recent survey said that failures in the workplace were due to poor team collaboration.

Not only does this make those remote employees feel less informed and appreciated, but your organization could be missing out on valuable input and expertise. It’s in these moments of quick decisions and project breakthroughs when you should stick to remote-work best practices and be mindful about involving remote team members. Doing so may seem challenging, but it’s doable (and worthwhile) with the right strategies and tools.

4. Establish Clear Remote Work Policies

Create a remote work policy to establish compliance and set guidelines and expectations for remote employees. These policies should be tailored to your company, industry, and each employee’s specific role. This includes implementing policies around:

If your company offers a combination of hybrid, virtual, and in-office positions, it’s crucial to outline which policies apply to remote employees vs. employees with differing schedules to make sure everyone is aware of expectations from day one.

Free Download: Want to engage your remote employees?

Our remote employee checklist connects you with actionable tips for leveling up communication, participation, and appreciation.

Download Now

5. Be Responsive And Available

Being available for remote team members can sometimes prove to be a logistical challenge. Rather than calling an impromptu meeting in the office, managing remote employees across different time zones requires a little more thoughtfulness.

To overcome this challenge, set expectations for when your team members can expect you to be available to them, and vice versa. Let’s face it, no one loves 7am or 5pm meetings, so it’s key to be mindful of time differences and act accordingly.

It’s also important to set reasonable guidelines for you and your team to provide responses to questions and comments. For instance, what happens in the event that you or another team member receives an email or Slack message past their working hours? Setting these expectations from the get go is key to avoiding miscommunication.

6. Provide Face-To-Face Meeting Opportunities

Meeting together individually or as a team provides plenty of benefits, including building a strong culture, developing rapport, and increasing engagement. Even in remote team settings, face-to-face meetings are still important. Video calls using tools like Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, etc. make it easy to meet with your team digitally face-to-face.

It’s no secret that it’s typically easier to get to know coworkers better in person. Consider setting aside a few minutes at the start of virtual meetings to connect over icebreaker questions or encourage employees to share about their day. It may seem like a small task, but it can go a long way.

Lastly, it’s key to ensure meeting opportunities are worthwhile for remote employees. We’ve all been in meetings that could’ve been an email or that feel like a waste of time—make each meeting count to avoid this.

7. Make Meetings Accessible

Meeting virtually has its own set of unique challenges–especially when some team members are in the office and others are remote. Beyond technical issues that are often time unavoidable, participation from remote employees is often lacking. Set guidelines for your team to follow during meetings and encourage participation.

Below are a few ideas for keeping remote meetings accessible and engaging for everyone:

Ultimately, the key is to put yourself in your remote workers’ shoes and be considerate of their time to maintain a positive work environment for all.

8. Hold Regular Check-Ins

Seven in 10 participants of a recent survey said that they want more daily or weekly check-ins than they’re currently getting. To increase employee engagement, hold regular check-ins even if you don’t have anything pressing to discuss.

Check-ins can range from daily stand-up meetings to individual one-on-ones with each team member. It’s important to remember that these check-ins shouldn’t take up too much time—15 to 20 minutes is long enough.

These quick check-ins are ideal for:

9. Include Remote Workers in Virtual Team Building

Even remote teams need to participate in team building. Virtual team building refers to bringing team members together to complete activities, share skills or experiences, attend virtual events, or enjoy others’ company.

Virtual team-building strengthens the bond of the team and boosts employee morale. Whether you’re playing a trivia game, asking one another interesting icebreaker questions, or having a virtual lunch together, taking time to socialize with remote team members can make them feel more connected and energized.

10. Send Some Snail Mail

Gift giving isn’t just for holidays or special occasions. Gift-giving can enhance employees’ productivity and motivation, help build stronger relationships, and boost overall morale.

Not only that, 57% of employees surveyed said they’re more likely to be loyal and continue working for a company that provides gifts. Don’t just send anything, put some thought into the gifts–send gifts that are meaningful and personal such as physical cards, letters, or swag packages.

Next Steps: Create a Great Workplace for Remote Employees

Your remote workers have the potential for incredible productivity, creativity, innovation, and strong performance. However, if your organization doesn’t learn how to manage remote employees, they will likely take their skills and expertise elsewhere.

With remote work becoming increasingly common, your organization can’t afford to delay implementing remote-work best practices—but there’s good news. These efforts don’t require sweeping, expensive changes. Creating a great place for remote employees to work comes down to a shift in perspective and a willingness to keep them engaged.

It’s normal for jumping on a video call, going out of your way to chat with someone, or holding regular check-ins to feel a bit unnatural at first. Eventually, no matter where they are in the world, your team will learn to connect and collaborate with each other without a second thought.

An Award-Winning, Complete HR Platform

In BambooHR, everything works together to help you manage data and benefits, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees thrive. Best of all, it's easy and intuitive for busy HR teams!

Learn More Today