Research has shown the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a geologic impact on the future of work, irreparably shifting the way many people perform their jobs. Remote work will become a permanent element for many companies, and as a result, figuring out the best way to manage a team with members working from different locations is vital for success. Read on as we delve deeper into how you can keep your remote workers engaged and why this should become one of your top priorities.
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A survey by global research and advisory firm Gartner has found that 80% of company leaders plan to continue allowing remote work after the pandemic subsides. More specifically, Gartner’s research found that “47% of respondents said they intend to allow employees to work remotely on a full-time basis, while 43% would grant flex days and 42% would provide flex hours.”
The Gartner findings are reinforced by similar surveys of employees and employers. It only takes a quick web search to find all the research done during the pandemic highlighting the desire for continued flexibility in the workforce, including our own research at Smartway2, which overwhelmingly found that workers do not want to return to the pre-pandemic status quo. Our Return to Work survey found that only 2% of people want to return to the office full-time and only 6% of people want to remain working from home full-time, meaning 92% prefer the flexibility offered by a hybrid approach.
What does all of this mean for your company? For managers, it means that when it comes to your work culture, embracing remote teams as a permanent fixture and providing the same level of support as they did when work was performed in-person at the office, albeit differently. For employees, it means getting more comfortable performing their jobs efficiently outside of the office in the years to come, rather than just when forced into remote work by a pandemic, and determining how managers can help meet their needs remotely.
Sandeep Kashyap, Founder and CEO of ProofHub, a project management and collaboration software company, writes the following regarding remote work: “Businesses today are embracing remote trends and are hiring top talent from different countries. And managing remote teams is the responsibility of a manager. As the manager of remote team members, your job is to nurture, guide and support team members which is a challenge in itself.” According to Kashyap,, “The whole process involves connecting solopreneurs and project teams living in different countries or continents. Every individual is looking forward to endearing the culture of remote working. It becomes a tough gig to empower the teams to thrive when, for instance, an Indian sitting in Banglore is working for an American company and so on.”
28 Tips to Support Remote Workers
With remote work becoming a fixture for many companies, it is imperative the transition from a conventional schedule is smooth and policies are implemented clearly. To help you in this process, we have done the research and are compiling some key advice from industry leaders and sources:
Our first set of tips comes from an article in the Harvard Business Review written by three management professors – Barbara Larson (Northeastern’s D’Amore-Kim School of Business), Susan Vroman (Bentley University) and Erin Makarius (University of Akron’s College of Business Administration – who put together a compressive guide for managing remote teams. We are sharing 5 of their suggestions below:
- Establish structured daily check-ins
- Provide several different communication technology options
- Establish “rules of engagement
- Provide opportunities for remote social interaction
- Offer encouragement and emotional support
Next on our list is some guidance from Brent Gleeson, CEO of TalkingPoint Leadership, a consulting firm that focuses on leadership and organizational development, culture transformation and creating high-performing teams, that he wrote for Forbes Magazine on tips for managing and leading remote workers. We are including part of Gleeson’s list below:
- Manage expectations
- Focus on outcomes, not activity
- Define the purpose of those outcomes
- Provide resources
- Show flexibility
- Exhibit Empathy
- Mentor more than manage
We are sharing our next set of tips from Kathy Gurchiek, Associate Editor, Global Issues, OED & Diversity at The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM): .
- Adapt the length of your meetings
- Track your workers’ progress
- Emphasize communication
- Remember to listen
- Build connections and be available to your team
- Provide a way to collaborate
- Resist the urge to micromanage
- Celebrate success
We are rounding out our list of advice with Mary Baker, Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications at Gartner, the global research and advisory firm we cited earlier:
- Be on the lookout for signs of distress in your employees
- Equip employees
- Promote dialogue
- Trust in your employees
- Reinforce organizational values
- Use objectives to create clarity
- Increase recognition
Remote Work Benefits
We’ve covered how to best manage a remote team, and now we want to take a step back and focus on why it is so important to build the best remote team you can. Considering the fact that so many employers plan to adopt a hybrid modality that allows their workers more flexibility in determining their schedules, including the ability to continue working from home, there are a number of known advantages of this work model.
According to Emily Courtney, a writer, editor and content specialist at Flexjobs, a job search site,, “… what quickly became apparent to many office-based teams is that employees could be productive and focused when not in the office—in many cases, even more so. Employers everywhere began to understand that remote work really works.”
Courtney goes on to share the following advantages of remote work:
- Better Work-Life Balance
- Less Commute Stress
- Location Independence
- Improved Inclusivity
- Money Savings
- Positive Environmental Impact
- Impact on Sustainability
- A Customizable Office
- Increased Productivity and Performance
- A Happier, Healthier Work Life
Challenges of Remote Work
While the benefits to remote work have become clear over the past year, it is also important to recognize the challenges that exist and how to address those challenges. Having a better understanding of what obstacles your employees might face will allow you to proactively solve them and promote a better work environment for everyone.
Writing for Business Insider, contributing writer Natalia Lusinski shares the following list of 9 challenges that people face when working remotely:
- Problems with technology may not get resolved as quickly as they would in the office, and can make it difficult to work remotely.
- It’s easy to get distracted when you’re working from home, and you may not be as productive as you’d be in a traditional work setting.
- The distractions get even worse if you’re not good at following a strict schedule.
- With no coworkers in your living room, socializing with your peers can be a challenge and make remote work pretty lonely.
- A lack of interaction with coworkers can also make team-building difficult.
- Working remotely can mean inconsistent pay.
- Communication with coworkers or clients can easily be misconstrued.
- Feeling that other people don’t really think you are working can be frustrating.
- It may be hard to find a healthy work-life balance.
Smartway2 offers a unique workplace scheduling software for modern, agile and collaborative companies. Our flexible software can enable you to increase productivity, optimize your space and reduce your carbon footprint.