An HR guide to remote working: advice for managers and employers

by | Jan 10, 2021 | Blog

Remote working has been proven to improve motivation, productivity and work-life balance, and is becoming increasingly popular – especially within the tech industries.

But it’s not without its challenges. These include disconnect between employees and managers, difficulty measuring performance and issues with security and confidentiality.

Do you have a remote working policy in place? And are you sure your employees fully understand what the expectations are?

Here we’ll take you through some interesting stats, top tips on how to manage your non-office employees and the key elements of a policy to ensure remote working is benefitting your business, not hindering it.

The Statistics

  • Approximately 17% of the UK labour force work away from the office at least one day a week according to CIPD.
  • TUC estimates that between 2006 and 2016, the number of people working from home in the UK increased by 20%.
  • One survey revealed that 58% of workers said working remotely would improve their motivation levels.
  • The same survey also showed that 56% thought their managers do not have the skillset to manage a remote workforce.
  • Cardiff University researchers found that 39% of people who mostly work from home often work additional hours to complete their tasks compared to 24% in fixed workplaces.
  • According to a 2015 YouGov study, 48% of UK workers said their employers do not allow remote working.


Top Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce

1. Make yourself available

Working remotely brings a great deal of flexibility and can enhance productivity, however it can also be an isolating experience.Treat your remote employees as if they are in the office by giving them as much access to you as possible. Remember that they don’t bump into you in the kitchen or see you walking around the office.Respond quickly and check in with them often.

2. Communicate often and across multiple channels

You want to be speaking with your remote people on a daily basis if possible. Consistent interaction is vital for helping your remote employees feel they are an integral part of the team and valued by the organisation.

It is worth mentioning the issue of presenteeism here. Remote working is usually synonymous with working from home. Managing expectations regarding communication is key for ensuring your employees separate their work from their personal life.

Video should be used as much as possible. Non-verbal communication is essential for understanding someone’s mood and what they are trying to communicate.

Face-to-face meetings are important, too. Plan regular meetings (frequency of these depending on the location of your employees) and consider tying these in with a training programme.

Understand how your employees like to communicate. Some may prefer ongoing conversations; others might be in favour of fewer chats but with a longer list of questions and thoughts to discuss.

3. Trust

Managers are often wary of, or unwilling to allow, remote working. It can be difficult to monitor progress and there is often scepticism surrounding the quality of the work completed outside of the office.

These concerns are understandable so it may be worth putting some guidelines in place which ensure remote workers are responding to their colleagues in good time.

However, a lack of trust is easily detected so try not to make these guidelines too rigid as this could have a negative impact on your working relationship with the employee.

4. Focus on goals not activity

Traditional performance management is not possible with a remote workforce. Instead of focusing on the number of hours or specific activities, pay more attention to the projects that are being accomplished.

If these goals are being completed, things are on track, if not, then it’s time to look into the details.

5. Pay attention to your team’s career aspirations

On the topic of goals, it is also important for you to understand your team’s aspirations. No longer are people working for the same company for decades at a time.

Today, learning and development is often more valued than stability, so we recommend you make the effort to truly understand your team’s professional goals and connect them to those of the company.

6. Don’t forget the culture

Building community in a remote team can be tricky but it’s essential for having an engaged workforce. You will need to be intentional about creating a real connection between team members.

When you cannot see your people, you need to make up for the non-verbal communication that is not possible. Having intention and putting the time and effort into preparing employees for remote working is essential for fostering an engaged and motivated team.

Start by trying to make every team meeting you have count by offering the chance for all participants to engage and contribute their ideas. Why not consider daily meetings to grow the team culture and keep up motivation?

7. Have empathy

Support your remote employee’s successes by asking how you can help them achieve their goals rather than just checking in on their progress.

Remember that they may feel isolated or detached so it is vital for you as a manger to facilitate conversations about stress and mental health.

It’s not all about the work. make the effort to invest in the relationship and building rapport. Make time for small talk. Discuss family life, hobbies and your shared beliefs – It really does make a difference.

8. Use GIFs

It may not be the most professional form of communication, but GIFs are excellent tools for conveying emotion digitally.

Which of these would you rather receive?

“Nice work.”



9. Set clear expectations

It is vital that you create a thorough and clear policy which covers all the elements outlined in the following section. The next step is ensuring these policies are put into practice.

Show examples of what you expect from your employees, give them all the tools they need to carry out their role and touch base regularly.

Read on to learn about writing your own Remote Working Policy for your business.

And for more on developing management and leadership in your organisation, click here or get in touch to arrange a free consultation.