Manage remote employees without losing a step

by Stephen Danos

As the demand for flextime and the option to work from home (or anywhere) has gained steam, the challenges managers and organizations face for how to manage work and hold everyone accountable are increasing. 

Remote workers can be just as — if not more — productive than those working out of the main office. A recent study at Stanford University found that the productivity increase is “equivalent to an extra day per person per week.” 

So as today's dynamic workforce continues to shape remote work policies, expect this benefit to stick around. The challenge then for managers is how to manage employees that they don’t see in person on a daily basis. 

Managers and their teams can stay in step through a collaborative work management platform, such as Smartsheet, that encourages more visibility into work as it happens. A common platform helps managers, sets up the context for assignments, and caters to individuals and teams, so remote workers can stay engaged and achieve more. 

Simple illustration of a bar being raised

Raise the bar for visibility and accountability.

Whether your team features one mobile worker or full squad of remote employees, it is key to have a direct line into the work being done, who’s working on what, project stages, how things are going, at-risk tasks, and more — for the benefit of managers and individual contributors. 

Adopting a work execution platform that improves clarity around all of these factors can help drive accountability — crucial when you have remote team members.

With Smartsheet, you can use dashboards and portals to increase visibility into work, reports to track assignments, and improve cross-functional accountability through automated alerts and reminders

In Smartsheet, you can see who has viewed sheets, changed cells, downloaded attachments, changed conditional formatting, and more, in Activity Log. This helps you keep track of changes to projects or programs without having to constantly ask your team for updates.

In addition, the Smartsheet mobile app helps managers meet remote team members where they are, providing instant visibility into work from their preferred device. With all of these capabilities, you can avoid information silos and work more effectively as a team.

Simple illustration of an assignment book

Put every assignment in context.

To support remote workers, managers must communicate, be accountable, and establish clear expectations. It's crucial that employees working from home understand what’s expected of them and feel like they’re part of the team. 

The Smartsheet platform provides multiple views into work, in order to help you provide the necessary context for every assignment. Grid view uses a spreadsheet format, Gantt View adds a Gantt chart, card view organizes information into swimlanes, and calendar view is a reliable way to display date-driven tasks. 

Your team can use one or all of these views to update tasks by adding assignees, attachments, documents, descriptions, due dates, and more. You can add as much (or as little) information as your team needs so that they can succeed.

Simple illustration of a megaphone

Cater to the individual contributor.

The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 found that 49% of millennials would quit their current jobs within the next two years if they could. Approximately 25% of those who answered this way ended up quitting, as promised.

Digging a bit deeper, millennials offered some justifications for jumping ship. Twenty-eight percent cited the absence of professional development opportunities, 23% flat out didn’t feel appreciated, and 22% said their company didn’t provide working arrangements that were flexible enough.   

Managers can take a few minutes during weekly team meetings to recognize team members for their accomplishments. While professional development and flextime are often tied to company policy, they can try to plan for both so workers have options. It’s a good rule for managers to be flexible when it comes to work schedules, and adopt a work execution platform that can adapt to their team’s needs.

Whether they’re in sales, marketing, or software development, remote team members need a platform that can cater to their job function, based on the platforms they already use to get work done. Smartsheet integrates and connects with popular enterprise platforms, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Workplace by Facebook, Jira, Salesforce, and many others

Remote work is here to stay

As of 2018, 70% of professionals surveyed by IWG said they work remotely once per week. Flextime and WFA policies are likely to stick around, if not expand. Managers know they can’t afford to overlook this trend. 

Smartsheet gives you the flexible platform you need to drive achievement for your entire team, including those who work remotely. The no-code platform gives your team — wherever they’re located — the ability to create solutions that help to break down silos, remove bottlenecks, and make sure that everyone has access to the information they need, when they need it.

To learn more about how Smartsheet empowers you to achieve everything you set out to do, download our report “6 Reasons Why Your Work Is So Dysfunctional — and What to Do About it.”