Advice and actions to take for anyone in HR who is managing staff remotely

Remote working can be a highly effective and efficient mode of operation for many businesses, but it does present certain challenges for managers. Some of the key challenges faced by managers in the context of remote working include communication, monitoring and productivity, team bonding and, perhaps biggest of all, trust.
HR Grapevine
HR Grapevine | Executive Grapevine International Ltd
Advice and actions to take for anyone in HR who is managing staff remotely

Remote working can be a highly effective and efficient mode of operation for many businesses, but it does present certain challenges for managers. Some of the key challenges faced by managers in the context of remote working include communication, monitoring and productivity, team bonding and, perhaps biggest of all, trust.

Ensuring effective communication can be challenging when teams are not physically present, as misunderstandings can arise easily. Increasingly, staff are reporting that they feel either micro-managed or mistrusted by managers.

Conversely, of course, it can be difficult for managers to monitor the productivity and progress of their team members when working remotely - there's a fine line between trust and knowing that staff are getting the work done that you need them to do.

Remote working is a burning issue for HR. There has been a rise in tribunals citing remote working in some form, according to research from HR consultants Hamilton Nash. 42 tribunals cited remote working in 2022 – 50% higher than the 27 cases decided in 2021. There have been 25 cases in the first six months of 2023, putting the year on course for 50 tribunals.

Despite 87% of remote workers saying they do their best work when they work remotely, almost half (46%) felt lonely in the last six months, according to research by Promoleaf. The research also found that, when asked what they would do if asked to return to the office full-time, more than half (52%) said they would quit their job. This points to the fact that remote working is, even if in a hybrid way, here to stay.

Laura Fink VP People & Talent at Unmind, explains: "Managing people remotely has always required an extra level of thought, focus and intentionality. The advent of Covid meant that more companies experienced the benefits and challenges of remote-first or hybrid working, and the practice and skill of leading remotely has therefore received a significant amount of attention in recent years. Managing remotely puts additional focus and spotlight on your culture and how you manage.  The critical ingredients of building a healthy, high performing culture where people can flourish are very similar. But they have to be strong and intentionally designed to address some of the additional complexities of remote working."

Remote working is a burning issue for HR. There has been a rise in tribunals citing remote working in some form, according to research from HR consultants Hamilton Nash

Trust as the bedrock of managing remote workers

Trust is essential in any working relationship, and it can be more challenging to build and maintain trust with remote team members. That goes for the daily check-ins, to longer term KPIs and wellbeing, too. The ways staff are managed remotely arguably all sits on the foundations of trust.

Richard Doherty, Senior Director Product Marketing at Workday explains: "If a manager is worried that an employee's taking a two hour lunch, I think that's quite a bad starting point, because it's the manager should be focused on the output. If a manager micromanages remote workers, they probably would also micromanage workers in the office – it’s a chracteristic of that manager and I don't think it's necessarily influenced by the physical location of the worker."

You've read 49% of the article so far, subscribe to continue reading - plus lots more!


Subscribe now to myGrapevine+ and get access to our comprehensive knowledge portal.


Already a subscriber?Sign in

Welcome Back


What does this new trend mean? And who is likely to do it?

Up Next:

'Grumpy Staying' | What does this new trend mean? And who is likely to do it?


You might also like