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Trusting vs. Verifying: Best Ways to Manage Remote and Hybrid Employees

A little trust can go a long way
If you’re like many business owners, the way work gets done has changed — most likely, for good. You probably have employees that work from home some or all of the time now, and you almost certainly have more of them than you did in the idyllic old days of 2019. In many ways, this shift is a good thing— but that’s not what we want to talk about today. Instead, we want to talk about how managers and business leaders can effectively manage employees and measure their work in this new mix of remote, hybrid, and in-person. Whether you love the change or hate it, the best ways to manage people look a little different than they used to. Here are a few quick tips on managing remote and hybrid employees in a way that gives you the information you need without driving your people crazy.

Trust or Verify?

Much of the disagreement or confusion surrounding management techniques in the new normal comes down to whether and how much managers can or should trust their team members. On the one extreme is complete trust: your team is made up of motivated professionals, and they’ll do what’s right and what’s best at all times, right? Maybe somewhere, but back here in reality land that doesn’t quite feel right, does it? On the other extreme is little to no trust: intrusive methods for tracking and reporting that make your team members squirm — and that consume precious resources just to confirm that people aren’t wasting precious resources. If you’re thinking neither of those extremes seems like a good choice, we agree. A completely hands-free approach just invites bad behavior. But push too hard into Big Brother, and you’ll meet resistance. You might even lose employees who find a better, less invasive opportunity at a competitor.

Remote and Hybrid Isn’t Going Away

The best path forward is to view remote and hybrid work as a reality, not as something to be feared or resisted. It isn’t right for everyone, but many employees report better quality of life and better productivity across dozens of surveys. In the industries and job functions where remote and hybrid work makes sense, it’s here to stay.

Both/And, not Either/Or

The right strategy for managing remote employees isn’t trust or verification. It’s a little bit of both. You need information to make sure your business is on track. Performance metrics and KPIs matter. At the same time, most employees will thrive when they feel trusted to perform, and they’ll bristle under overly restrictive monitoring practices. One strategy that works well for many is to prioritize output and output quality, not how many hours or which hours an employee is actively logged in. The thinking here is that a dip in output tells you there’s a problem, potentially with hours or focus or ethical behavior. And tracking output is easy and natural because your team members deliver something — whether it’s completed tickets or lines of code or sales calls.

Technology Solves the Problems Technology Created

Many of the other elements key to successful remote work management are technology-based. The right software and hardware are crucial to successful remote work. So is automating repetitive tasks: people stay much more motivated when working on creative, meaningful tasks than robotic ones. Newer tools for check-ins and training can help bridge that gap as well, in a way that feels truly collaborative and not Big Brotherish. And the same goes for better performance tracking tools that give you the information you need without feeling overly invasive to your team. On the tech front, we’ve got you covered. Reach out to our team to discuss what is and isn’t working right now, and we’ll craft a plan to get you where you need to go.