Field Services: Definition, Examples, And Management Tips
Do you need to improve your field services program? These tips from our experts can help you manage on-site, off-site, and...
Whether we like it or not, remote management is here to stay. Many businesses are currently experiencing the benefits that maintaining a remote team brings to the table.
But there’s more to it than just sending your employees home, giving them something to do, and hoping for the best.
In this article, we discuss the advantages, challenges, and best practices of remote management so you can create a system that works for your business.
Remote management is the theory and practice of supervising and directing a remote team.
While this definition is pretty straightforward by itself, it does contain some variables that make the whole concept of remote management a bit more difficult to understand — namely, what is a remote team?
A remote team is a group of employees who work mainly from a location other than the office and communicate with their team members, and the business itself, via email, telephone, or other digital medium.
We can break this down even further into two distinct categories: a true remote team and a combination traditional and remote team.
In a true remote team, employees — and even management — may never meet face-to-face in a physical office. In fact, the business may not have a physical office at all.
For example, let’s say an entrepreneur starts, builds, and manages their business from home, while all their employees work from remote locations (perhaps even other countries).
With a remote team like this, physical location doesn’t matter.
In a combination traditional and remote team, employees and management may work face-to-face in the same office space from time to time but also have the option to work from home or some other location if need be.
In this arrangement, the business may require all employees to report to the office at least one or two days per week for meetings and the like, but they conduct the majority of their work offsite.
At any given time, then, a different combination of employees would be working in-house and online at the same time.
Why is it important to understand these details? Because remote management (and in-person management) strategies will change based on the type of team (or teams) your business operates.
With the right remote management program in place, efficiency and productivity have a tendency to go up when employees work from home.
As long as they can keep distractions to a minimum, and you can keep them focused and on-task, your team members will enjoy the comfort and flexibility that comes from working in a familiar environment.
And, when their efficiency and productivity go up, yours will, too.
Implementing a combination or a true remote team model, and the remote management system that goes with it, opens your business to a truly global workforce.
Running your business from a physical location limits the talent pool from which you can draw. As a result, you may not be able to hire the right person for the job because they live too far away.
For example, imagine that you run your business in New York City, but the perfect candidate lives in Perth, Australia. It’s not likely that they’d be willing to move that far for a new job.
But, when your business has a remote management program, you can hire any candidate, regardless of where they live.
In some places, the commute to and from work can take several hours. That’s time that could be better spent on work-life balance or actually getting something done.
With the right remote management plan in place, you can:
All of this, and more, during hours that would otherwise be spent traveling from point A to point B.
That’s a significant time savings for you and your team.
A business that implements remote management and allows its team to work from anywhere will save money on expenses that other brick-and-mortar operations have to pay, including:
Those are some significant costs that all but disappear when your team works remotely.
With the money you’ll save, you can channel that capital into improving the way your team works and taking your business to the next level.
One of the biggest remote management challenges that most businesses face is that of task management.
You may know which days of the week your team members are scheduled to work, but what are you going to have them do when they’re there?
This is where task management software, like Inch, comes into play.
Such apps give you the ability to drill down into the individual hours that your employees work, assign tasks by availability, coordinate due dates, monitor progress, and keep everything moving forward to successful completion.
Another challenge that most remote management programs face is communication.
If your team needs regular discussion or collaboration to get the job done, working in different locations can lead to communication gaps.
With the right software, though, you can make discussion and collaboration as simple and seamless as if you were all working together in the office, face to face.
Examine the way your team works and what they need to make their job easier. Then, implement an online solution that gives your employees access to their coworkers when they need it.
When your team works together in the same location, it’s easy to track work time — both total time in the office and time on task.
But, when your employees work from alternate locations, time tracking becomes much more difficult.
A robust remote management system addresses this issue with cloud-based tracking programs that turn any device — smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop — into a time clock.
With these solutions in place, your employees can clock in and out of their workday, and individual projects and tasks, from anywhere and at any time of the day or night.
Company culture is a big part of what makes your business successful. But, much of that culture depends on team members working together face-to-face every day.
As such, it can be difficult to maintain company culture when everyone is working from a different location.
With the right remote management system, though, preserving — and even strengthening — company culture becomes much easier.
In fact, many of the solutions to the challenges we’ve mentioned so far also help build stronger bonds between team members.
One of the best things you can do in any remote management situation is to trust your team.
Working remotely can make it even more stressful for you — and them — because of the challenges mentioned in the previous section.
But, if you give everyone the tools they need, keep them focused on the task at hand, and communicate regularly, you’ll see them succeed.
That success, then, reinforces the trust you have in your team and gives them the sense of security that they need to do their best work.
Whether they work in-house or in different countries, micromanaging your team is the death of creativity and productivity.
Instead of watching your team’s every move, give them the autonomy they need to succeed.
Regardless of the management system and strategies you use, give employees an assignment and a deadline, and then step back and let them work.
Unclear and confusing assignments are like speed bumps to any remote management system — they slow down the workflow and cause discomfort to your employees.
To prevent these issues from becoming a problem, be as clear with your assignments as possible.
Define clear, achievable tasks. Set realistic goals and deadlines. Explain the scope of their work to each employee. And, if necessary, create guidelines and regulations to prevent team members from overstepping their responsibilities and doubling up on the work.
We touched on the challenge of communication in the previous section, but too much communication can be just as bad as not enough.
To that end, provide weekly communication — or even bi-weekly communication if the need arises — so that everyone is in the loop and knows what’s going on with the project and the business.
For example, you might try distributing a 5-15 report (so called because it takes five minutes to read and 15 minutes to write) every Friday that provides a weekly summary of accomplishments, priorities, challenges, roadblocks, and lessons learned.
Remote management is an innovative way to expand your business and retain talent while saving money and optimizing wellness for all employees. But it takes the right software.
Inch can help.
With our powerful team management software, you can guide your entire staff — be they on-site, in the field, or part of a distributed or remote team — in the right direction in a timely and cost-effective way.
When it comes to building a team with talented workers from around the world, trust Inch’s remote management tools to keep everyone on the same page for every project.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, save time and energy, and keep your team on task, visit TryInch.com today.
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