By Jordan Quigley, North American Vice President, Robert Half
During the pandemic, it became more common for administrative staff and other support professionals to work from home at least some of the time. Today, employees like the flexibility of remote work, and many want to keep this arrangement long term.
What employees want most from employers, beyond salary
During interviews, administrative and customer support candidates ask most about flexible schedule options (40%), followed by career advancement (39%).
Source: Robert Half survey of more than 250 hiring managers who work in the administrative and customer support fields in the U.S.
© 2023 Robert Half International Inc. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.
What does that mean for those of you who manage a remote administrative team? While employees like the flexibility of work-anywhere work, you might encounter challenges such as scheduling difficulties, distractions and detachments. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can deploy to help increase productivity and engagement, enabling your administrative professionals to achieve success.
1. Set clear expectations
When managing remote workers, it’s important to set clear expectations, especially with windowed work — the concept of breaking down the workday into separate segments 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 and hybrid 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 let them know 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 workers when they are offsite while building a culture of accountability. Rather than asking for something to be done ASAP, managers instead 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 employees working remotely with laptops and headsets, and sometimes pay for software, cloud access and internet connections. Employers can also help offset the costs of working from home by providing office supplies and equipment. Note that laws vary from state to state concerning work-related reimbursements for remote employees; 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 and hybrid employees acquire new skills or develop their careers. Virtual job shadowing can be conducted in real time using video conferencing tools and shared computer screens or prerecorded using videos that showcase another employee at work.
Learn how 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 problems and set the foundation for healthy relationships and performance. Keep the check-ins brief and specific and avoid crossing the line of micro-managing.
7. Encourage social interactions
One of the downsides of working remotely is the lack of “water-cooler” chat. Consider using some of the time during your check-ins for more personal conversations as a way to be intentional about building stronger connections. Or schedule a virtual lunch or casual coffee break to learn how everyone is doing outside of work. Turning on your video camera during remote calls can enhance your interpersonal communication.
8. Make time to gather feedback
You can initiate feedback during your one-on-one calls or team calls. For example, ask, “What do you think of the new process for scheduling appointments?” You can also launch anonymous polls or surveys for employees and set up focus groups. Be sure to listen to your employees’ many different perspectives, recognize their contributions and turn their feedback into action.
9. Keep the virtual environment fun
A major cornerstone of building successful remote and hybrid teams is to remember to have fun. This could mean more traditional activities 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. We’ve tried these activities at Robert Half, and they have been highly engaging and well received.
10. Give remote recognition
Administrative Professionals Day is around the corner, providing 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 suggestions for creative employee rewards and recognition ideas for additional tips.
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 culture that works for workers everywhere.
Follow Jordan Quigley on LinkedIn and read his post on How Companies Can Build a Successful Remote Work Culture.
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