By Jordan Quigley, North American vice president for Robert Half’s administrative and customer support group
Since the pandemic, it has become increasingly common for administrative professionals and other workers to work from home. Off-site employees say they like the flexibility of remote work, and they don’t just want it now. They want it for the long term.
What does that mean for those of you who manage a remote administrative team? While you might encounter challenges such as scheduling difficulties, distractions and detachments, fortunately, there are several strategies to help increase productivity and engagement, and achieve success.
Keep reading for 10 tips on how to build and grow your remote administrative team. And, as Administrative Professionals Day approaches, be sure to think about ways that you can also recognize your team and show your appreciation.
- Set clear expectations
- Avoid micro-management
- Allow them to manage their own time
- Provide company-paid technology
- Engage in virtual shadowing
- Conduct regular check-ins
- Encourage social interactions
- Gather feedback
- Keep the virtual environment fun
- Give remote recognition
1. Set clear expectations
When managing remote teams, it’s important to set clear expectations, especially with windowed work, which is the concept of breaking down the workday into separate windows of time for business and personal time. This guidance should start as early as possible, such as during the interview or onboarding process, where you can address performance objectives, work styles and goals.
2. Avoid micro-management
Remote workers need to feel as though they can work independently, without a manager monitoring their every move. Ask them about the flexibility they need throughout the day to meet the expectations of the role and the specific tasks you have given them. Allow them to vary their work hours and give them confidence that you trust them to get their job done even if they aren’t in the same office.
3. Allow them to manage their own time
This is all about trusting your remote workers and building a culture of accountability. Rather than asking for something to be done ASAP, managers could say, “Ideally, we’d like you to have this accomplished by Friday. Do you think that’s possible?” If not, discuss key deliverables and reprioritize projects as needed.
4. Ensure the right tools are available
The right technology tools can help employees be successful while working virtually. Many companies today provide their remote employees with laptops and headsets, and they even sometimes pay for software, cloud access and internet connections. You can also help offset the costs of working from home with office supplies and equipment. Note that laws vary from state to state concerning work-related reimbursements for remote employees and that you may need to check with your supervisor and HR department before offering stipends, supplies or reimbursements.
5. Engage in virtual job shadowing
Virtual job shadowing can allow interviewees and new hires to learn about a typical workday and the culture of the organization when they can’t be in the office. It can also be a tool for coaching and mentoring to help remote employees acquire new skills or develop their careers. Virtual job shadowing can be live using video conferencing tools and shared computer screens, or pre-recorded using videos that showcase another employee at work.
Professional talent solutions like Robert Half can help you hire and manage remote talent.
6. Conduct regular check-ins
Scheduling regular meetings to touch base with both individuals and teams helps you to connect and engage, identify potential issues before they become issues, and set the foundation for healthy relationships and performance. Keep the check-ins brief and specific, and avoid crossing that line of micro-managing.
7. Encourage social interactions
One of the downsides of remote work is the lack of water-cooler chat (remember that?). You can use some of the time during your check-ins for personal time as a way to be intentional about building stronger connections. Or schedule a virtual lunch or casual coffee break to get to know how everyone is doing outside of work. If you turn on the video for face-to-face time on remote calls, that can add to your interpersonal communication.
8. Make time to gather feedback
You can ask for feedback during your one-on-one calls or team calls, such as, “What do you think of the new process for scheduling appointments?” You can also provide anonymous polls or surveys for employees and set up focus groups. Be sure to listen to their different perspectives, recognize their contributions and turn their feedback into action.
Robert Half can help you build a productive team. Search our candidates to find your next hire.
9. Keep the virtual environment fun
A major cornerstone of building a successful virtual team is to remember to have fun. That can be something more traditional, like providing “summer half days” to employees who have accomplished their goals (again, check with HR and payroll departments). Or, consider virtual team-building activities, such as remote cooking classes and online games (Wordle, anyone?). We’ve tried that with lunches and online games at Robert Half, and they were highly engaging and well received.
10. Give remote recognition
Administrative Professionals Day is around the corner and provides a great platform for employee recognition, but don’t make it a once-a-year proposition to celebrate and thank your incredible administrative professionals. Check out our Creative Employee Rewards and Recognition Ideas and read Stephanie Naznitsky’s recent post on The Power of Praising Your Administrative Professionals.
With the right tools, social interactions, communication and planning, you can develop a happier and more engaged administrative team, increase productivity levels and build a successful remote work culture in this new virtual era.