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Managing a team of remote workers is still a new frontier. While studies suggest that working remotely can boost employee performance, you also have to acknowledge the potential for your team members to slack off when there’s no supervisor to keep tabs on them, and the possibility of team morale declining when your workers aren’t engaging with one another regularly.

So what steps can you take to maximize the performance of a remote staff of workers?

Use the Right Monitoring Software

Your first step is setting up the right monitoring software. Depending on your workplace culture, how many remote workers you have, and the type of work those employees are doing, you may want anything from a simple time tracking platform to a robust employee monitoring network.

SAP’s time and attendance management software is a good middle-of-the-road option if you aren’t sure where you fall on the spectrum. This will allow you to gain some level of transparency into the working habits of your staff, without being too intrusive or wasting time with active monitoring.

Ensure a Proper Setup

You also need to make sure your employees have all the tools they need to be successful. At a minimum, your employees will need a decent computer and a strong internet connection; you can find the best internet provider in your area and hook your employees up with devices to match that speed. It’s also a good idea to work with your employees to help them set up a home office; it’s wise to have a dedicated room or space for work, to minimize distractions and help them ensure a clear split between their personal and professional lives.

Maintain Communication

In independent roles, it’s easy for your workers to lose touch with you—and with each other. After a few weeks of work without many conversations between coworkers, even the most independent people can feel detached. That detachment can manifest itself as depression, a decline in social skills, or a strong desire to get back into a job that meets face-to-face. To avoid this drop in morale, make it a point to maintain healthy communication patterns; for some teams, that means starting the day with a video chat meeting. For others, it means setting up regular meetups for lunch or coffee.

Set Objective Goals

The best way to keep a remote staff performing optimally is to set achievable, measurable objectives. In some types of work, this is easy; you might require a programmer to fix a certain number of bugs per day, or require a salesperson to make a fixed number of phone calls. In others, you’ll have to get more creative with these goals, such as reaching 30 percent completion on a project. When your employees know they’re responsible for hitting that minimum, they’ll be inclined to adjust their own lifestyles and working habits to achieve it. Plus, you’ll have a convenient metric you can use to gauge whether your staff is or isn’t working effectively; if you find your team is consistently failing to hit their targets, it means it’s time for a change.

Navigating the world of remote workforce management is new terrain, but with the right equipment, processes, and touch points in place, you can keep your team working optimally. There’s no guarantee your strategies will work, so keep an eye on your team’s results, and don’t be afraid to mix things up with new tactics—and of course, HR software from SAP, which can help you in everything from the recruiting process to ongoing workplace analytics.

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