Tabytha Cunningham | 29th March 2021

Remote performance management – Managing issues with a remote workforce


Tabytha Cunningham | 29th March 2021

Remote performance management – Managing issues with a remote workforce

With millions of people forced into a new flexible working environment, our report advises how best to manage remote work forces – and what management practices need to change. We look at some key questions that employers need to answer to enable effective processes to manage remote workers. These include how teams can stay in touch; how team morale is monitored and support offered to those that need it; how productivity is measured and how any compliance and regulatory requirements are met.

What management practices need to change, in order to effectively manage remote workforces?

Many individuals have become used to working from home. Teams are also now well versed in video meetings and phone calls replacing team meetings.

With the focus on getting through as best we can, however, many employers this year have understandably not focused on performance management or indeed career procession. Managers and HR teams have been thrown into managing employees remotely in the most difficult circumstances. Many performance issues may have gone unnoticed, or have had less impact due to decreased workload overall.

Employers need to carefully consider how they can ensure that they can effectively support and manage employees who move permanently to remote working. There is also a need to ensure that those working at home are not penalised, and held back from say promotions, because they are less visible to managers. It is important for employers to be proactive in having regular conversations and ensuring support is available to employees. Employers should consider practical issues that will occur when restrictions are lifted such as:

  • Will you require remote employees to regularly attend the office, for example once a fortnight or once a month?
  • Should remote employees be asked to attend some meetings in person, for example monthly or quarterly catch ups with their managers?
  • How should remote employees report progress and keep in touch?
  • How will you carry out learning and development remotely?
  • Do you have facilities in meeting rooms to allow employees to attend remotely once you are back in the office, for example by placing screens and webcams in meeting rooms?
  • If there are performance concerns in the future, are you confident you can manage this remotely or will employees be required to move back to office working so you can provide them support?
  • Can your managers effectively manage employees working in the office if they are permanently working from home?
  • How do you ensure those working at home are kept in the loop and not excluded from the team dynamic when others return?

Considering these questions up front will greatly assist when dealing with flexible working requests to formalise home working permanently and setting up appropriate systems to ensure these changes work longer term.

Employers are likely to find their managers will benefit from further training on how to mange performance and support those working remotely and you may need to consider how your office spaces will need to be adapted, for example providing hot desks for those only attending the office on occasion and changing your meeting spaces. For many employers utilising trial periods will be the best way to test proposed arrangements and make any further adjustments required before agreeing permanent changes.

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