Managing Remote Employees

Julie Shenkman
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Remote employees can present a challenge for a human resources department. When a worker does not maintain a physical presence in the office, HR must determine how to handle everything from hiring paperwork to conflict mediation — all from a distance. By developing set procedures in advance, you can streamline the process for the company and the employees.

Digital Forms

New employees often fill out a great deal of paperwork during their first days on the job. Standard paper forms work well for traditional workers, but not for remote employees. Eliminate the need for faxing or mailing by making your forms digital. Don't rely on an editable PDF file; employees may not be comfortable sending personal information in an emailed document. Instead, ask your programmers to create a secure online space for forms. The input information can be sent directly to your electronic files, saving time for everyone involved.

Remote Onboarding Program

The onboarding process helps new employees get comfortable with a company and creates valuable chances for relationship building. Give your remote employees the same opportunity by developing a remote onboarding program. Use videos or online sessions to introduce employees to company policies, explain the culture and familiarize them with the current practices. Because remote workers face more isolation than traditional workers, your onboarding program should also include opportunities for in-person video chats with the new employees' boss, colleagues and even clients.

Manager Education

Manager education is a crucial part of working with dispersed teams, particularly if your supervisors do not have experience managing remote employees. Before a new worker joins the team, conduct training sessions for the manager. Explain how to include a remote worker in team discussions, and introduce the manager to the company's video conferencing technology. Provide strategies for monitoring performance, communicating expectations and facilitating collaboration. When the manager's goals and actions are aligned with HR, you can reduce the risk of misunderstandings and mixed messages.

Online Employee Management

For human resources, one of the biggest challenges in managing remote employees is tracking their activity. An online HR information system can take the hassle out of the process. Many systems include digital time cards for accurate reporting, online leave requests, and schedule management. With all of the information in one place, you can manage your remote and traditional employees in the same manner; this strategy also reduces the risk of showing preference to on-site workers when it comes to vacation requests and scheduling.

By making a point to create systems that streamline basic business functions, you can eliminate many of the problems associated with managing people who are not in the office. Effective management by HR can make remote employees feel like part of the team, which boosts job satisfaction and reduces turnover.

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