How to Supervise and Mentor Your Remote Employees

By Luke Petit, Remote-How

With remote work becoming ever more popular, more and more managers are having to manage distributed teams. Not everyone has experience in this area, meaning that companies aren’t always getting the best out of their remote employees. There are a huge number of benefits to people working outside of the office, including productivity gains and an improved work-life balance, which aren’t being realized due to mismanagement. Remoters also need mentoring occasionally too to make sure they’re keeping up to the date with all the best practices. By following some of our tips, you’ll be able to get the most out of your remote team and help your employees to grow their distributed skills.

Use video calls and not just asynchronous communication

Video calls are a great way of improving communication and reducing misunderstandings. Asynchronous forms of communication such as email do have their benefits in setting tasks and being there for future reference. However, relying on just these or perhaps even instant messaging will ultimately make you less efficient. Sometimes a video call can save hours of going backwards and forwards in written communication. Being able to see your employee or colleague also makes them more human! It’s easy to forget that we are communicating with real people on the other side of the screen. Video calling is also more personal and helps foster better interpersonal relationships between you and your employees.

Select the latest and best tools

Trying to supervise your remote employees just through email and calls simply isn’t going to work well! Without being in the same physical location as your team, it can be more difficult to collaborate and manage efficiently. Therefore making using of the best new tools within the remote workplace is a great idea. Instant messaging applications like Slack and project management tools like Trello will make your job of supervising employees a lot more efficient and easier.

Over-communicate your goals and concentrate on deliverables

Not communicating regularly with your remote team can lead to confusion and unexpected outcomes. By simply setting tasks and not checking on their progress, you can sometimes be in for a nasty surprise before an important deadline! It’s not as easy to check in on how people are doing as in a physical office where you can simply come over to the employee’s desk. Make sure then to use the correct tools to regularly check on people’s progress and double check understanding of tasks. However, take care to do this in a constructive and helpful way. You don’t want it to backfire on you and annoy your remote team.

It’s also recommended that when working with distributed teams that you concentrate on the quality of the deliverable and not the time spent. If an employee is able to complete their tasks to a high standard and by any deadlines, then that should be enough! Worrying about the amount of time spent by an employee per day should not be a priority for a person managing a remote team. One of the key reasons people choose to work from home or when traveling is for the flexibility it brings. Constantly querying how much people are working will bring resentment and lead to slacking if measures are bought in to check employees’ hours.

Have one-on-one sessions regularly

By making sure to schedule a regular one on one sessions with each member of your team, you can really get to know any issues they may be having and give guidance where needed. It’s also a great time to build better interpersonal relationships with your employees. It’s key though that you actively schedule these, as by simply telling your team you’re available for one on ones you often will get less uptake. See what issues your employees are having, and ask for feedback yourself on what can be improved within the company.

Encourage healthy habits and practices

Make encouraging healthy working practices part of your work mentoring. A healthy and happy workforce will produce better results and feel much much satisfied with their work life. It can be easy to fall into bad habits when working from home, and loneliness can sometimes strike when traveling. These all negatively affect your remote employee’s mental and physical health, along with their output and collaboration. Tips and tricks like creating a suitable morning routine, learning how to wind down after work and taking regular exercise should be in the advice you give to remote employees. Sometimes team members can slip through the net due to them not having a physical presence within the office, so make sure to keep an eye out!

Help grow your employee’s network

If you’ve already been working within the remote world for some time, then it’s more than likely that you know others who may be able to help out your remote team. Perhaps one remoter is having a difficult time with a task or struggling to get on with one aspect of working remotely. Reach out to your network and see if someone else can help provide some mentoring or tips and tricks to help them on their way. The larger your team’s network, the more beneficial this can be for your remote company.