The advantages of remote work are often discussed, but very little about the cons.

One of the hottest issues about remote working is the monitoring of remote workers.

This Saturday, I want to share some tips on preventing the manager’s “remote NOT working fear”.

First: let’s admit that some people don’t fit into a remote-work setting.
Valuable tools and processes alone will not help if your teammates don’t fit the remote environment.
Someone could be doing well in the office, but they might lack the essential traits to work remotely.

The minimum requirements to be an effective remote worker are self-discipline and proactiveness.

As a manager, instead, we can group the most common concerns about remote working monitoring in 3 chunks:

1. Not getting a rapid response

Realistically speaking, you should work on getting more used to this.
People don’t always reply right away.
It’s just a fact of having remote employees and async communication.
Sometimes, stepping away for a few minutes or even closing slack/skype/whatever on your primary device can help you focus better.

2. The suspicion that a teammate that you don’t see online is not working

As long as you are not negatively affected by an evident lack of accountability to work, you shouldn’t assume that teammates are slacking off whenever they are offline.

3. The frustration of being blocked by other colleagues

If you can’t get work done because he’s not responding, you need to plan more in advance.
I’d recommend setting up a recurring meeting with him where you have a designated time to discuss questions, issues, and next steps.
Maybe even do it daily, at first.
After each meeting, you should have enough work to do that you won’t hit a complete stop even if you’re blocked on 1 or 2 fronts.
And when you do get blocked on some things, you won’t feel as pressured to have him reply immediately since you know you already have time set up to discuss.

Building a productive remote team is a never-ending process.

In the case you have some issue or a lack of trust with a colleague, take these actions:

  • Talk to the person directly
    Your end goal is for this team member to contribute to the team’s work.
    If you can solve the problem by speaking with the individual directly, you’ve saved a lot of time and energy for the whole team.
  • See what you can do to help your teammate
    Since it’s your problem, no matter whose fault it is, you share some responsibility for helping your team member perform to the best of their ability.
    Ask yourself what you can do on your side to improve the situation.
    Some examples:

    • Use a clear format for all email communication
    • follow up on a regular schedule
    • providing transparent and honest feedback.
  • Establish clear expectations
    Do your part to ensure that your entire team understands what “fair share” means.
    If this means initiating a group-wide discussion on setting and meeting expectations, then do it.
    Always remember that it can be challenging to do all this naturally, non-confrontational way when you work online.