Quick Tips for Managing Remote Staff

By Lauren Forbes, RHIT

With technology advancements and recent changes occurring in 2020, more and more staff are moving to working remotely. After managing an on-site team for years, some may wonder “How can I manage staff I can’t be with daily?”

Earlier this year, I went from having 7% of my team working from a remote office to 50% working remotely in just a matter of weeks. While, I was used to having staff at multiple locations, this was a new shift for the team and I to be working remotely, no longer on site. As a team, we transitioned quickly and found our new workflow to adapt to the constant changes.

Here are a few quick and useful tips for managing your remote staff.

  1. Check in with staff.
    • Have daily or weekly touch bases with staff to make sure they are getting the support they need.
    • Set virtual office hours once a week where staff can pop in and out as needed.
    • Use a virtual platform such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom where you can have cameras on (where allowed) to be more personal than a phone call.
    • If able, do virtual team building or short games to engage staff. Starting a meeting with a quick ice-breaker can change the atmosphere and encourage staff to participate more.
  2. Set measurable expectations for staff and yourself.
    • Make sure staff are aware of their expectations working remotely as this may vary from expectations working on site.
    • Give yourself expectations for managing your staff and along with any other duties that need to be met.
  3. Encourage staff (and yourself!) to take breaks away from their desk. We all need to recharge throughout the workday, working from home is no different!
  4. Make sure staff are following compliance and security procedures and policies. Working from home is still working, and we need to make sure staff are meeting all policies and guidelines to keep private information private.
    • Start by looking at older policies and check if they need to be updated to meet the current state of the business. An example would be since there is no paper and shred bins, how should staff handle sensitive information- delete files, clear cache and cookies on web browsers?
    • Are there “smart devices”, such as Alexa, in the home that could potentially pick up on private information during phone calls, meetings, etc.?

Virtual Team Building

Typically, the first thing I think of when I hear “team building” are day-long activities or events. With having teams working remotely the idea of team building should pivot as well to small amounts each day.

When I think of team building, I think of longer activities done as a team together. With having staff transition to working remotely, team building also needs to be transitioned and revamped.

  1. Have a team group where staff can take a break. We have a staff “Breakroom” within our Microsoft Teams group. Staff can share pictures, recipes and just have fun!

  2. Encourage cameras on during meetings. Visuals can help feel more together while apart.
  3. Celebrations- While the days of cake and lunches to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries are not in the current state, the team can still celebrate. Acknowledge special occasions in a call or email and send a gift or card to their home.
  4. Activities- Utilize platforms such as Kahoot to play some trivia, send out questions prior and have a “who choose what” game to get to know each other and encourage virtual volunteering events.
  5. Happy place- Have the team share their “happy place” with each other through pictures. This can be shared on a virtual breakroom, group chat or during a huddle as appropriate.

Each team or staff member may need to be managed in a different way, as is true with on-site staff. Find what the needs of your team are and build from there to create the best remote work environment for your team. The most valuable advice I have found is to be available to your staff. Communication is just as, if not more, important working remotely.

If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to reach out!

Lauren Forbes, RHIT- Sr. Health Information Operations Manager, Ciox Health