Insights - 01 July, 2022
Financial Services Leaders: 21 Tips for Effective Remote Employee Management
The 2020 pandemic ushered in extraordinary changes at a pace rarely seen in the course of human history, including an unprecedented digital and organizational transformation as billions of people shifted to remote work. Upwork's Future Workforce Report 2021 shows that more than half of the US population worked remotely after the COVID peak for at least one year. Furthermore, about 40.7 million Americans are anticipated to be entirely on Work-from-Home (WFM) status through the next five years.
A whopping 97% of respondents polled by Buffer in 2022 would suggest remote work to others and would keep working remotely for at least a period of time or the remainder of their careers. What does that tell us? It tells us that telework is here to stay, and employers and financial services company leaders should hurry to adjust their business processes to the new WFM world.
It’s not an easy transition however, and many leaders may feel like tearing their hair out from inconsistencies and confusion in the process of managing remote employees due to their inexperience in this area. To help our financial advisors’ community, here are 21 tips for how to avoid unpleasant situations and take full advantage of transmission to the WFM system.
Tip 1: Compensate the distance
One of the main reasons why remote teams don't succeed is because they don't offset the distance between employees. They seem to forget about the other team members, who are quietly living in their own world and cooperating only as much as they are obliged to.
In a virtual environment, it is necessary to create an opportunity among team members for direct, formal, and informal communication. Some practical options are online chats (Slack, Skype), project management platforms (Basecamp), and video conferencing (Zoom, Google Hangouts).
Tip 2: Keep the chat constantly open
Financial services companies should have chats for all departments, where members leave messages for their team as well as other departments. These chats must remain "alive" without becoming distracting. It is enough to maintain constant communication and discuss some critical issues so that everyone feels like part of the same team. However, it is important for the chat to remain balanced, as it should not distract from work.
An entertaining chat for the entire company that is not directly related to work is a good idea. It creates a “chill-out” effect where employees can discuss whatever they feel like discussing. A feeling of loneliness is not rare when one works from home, and an informal chat channel helps to maintain a sense of social connection. Think of it as a virtual “watercooler.”
Tip 3: Select the right communication style
Choose the most appropriate communication type for your team, depending on your needs.
Tip 4: Use tools for a short video or visual communication
How can you clarify something visually on the laptop screen when you and your employee are not in the same room? A YouTube video or a tool for screen capture like Loom is an excellent solution. Using Loom, you can capture a screenshot of your desktop and mark it with arrows, labels, and notes, or you can record a video of your desktop screen and share it with team members via their platform.
Tip 5: Use screen sharing tools
Screen sharing tools can give you visual access to the desktop so that the other person can see what exactly you are doing. Some of this software, such as TeamViewer, Join.me, or Zoom allows others to control a distant computer remotely. Skype also has screen sharing capabilities, but without the remote-control function. Free apps for small firms available.
Tip 6: Collaborate on documents and spreadsheets
If you have documents that many workers must edit, Google Drive is the best option. Documents that just need to be shared and not edited (such as an Excel file) can be placed in a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder. Multiple project management platforms also have file sharing and collaboration functions, so this is another alternative for document collaboration.
Tip 7: Set up and operate a project management system
For smaller financial associates’ teams, everything may be coordinated via email. THere are risks just relying on email however. Project management systems such as Asana or Clickup are advantageous since they facilitate the organization of documents and interactions into projects for future reference. These tools also simplify the categorization and storage of shared files. If you operate your business primarily through email, it can rapidly become unmanageable and chaotic.
Tip 8: Implement systems
Your financial services business will eventually fall apart without systems. Face-to-face interaction and communication can only partially compensate for the lack of established systems and processes in the workplace. Each person has the freedom to be in their universe when working from home. They may come up with their own procedures and methods that don't always fit the way another staff operates. There should be a documented, standardized method of working that is continuously improved.
Tip 9: Allow some degree of flexibility, but keep consistency
Those working remotely usually have a reasonable desire for flexible working hours. In fact, having some degree of flexibility is vital, as the very concept of working remotely implies greater freedom of action and more comfort. Conversely, if things get entirely hectic, it will be challenging to find a period when all team members can chat online at the same time.
Tip 10: Keep track of your work
Whether your team is remote or not, a financial services company should track their performance. What are the critical success indicators for each task in your business? Set these metrics so that you can easily and swiftly (in a couple of weeks, not months) determine whether each team member is productive and which is not.
Tip 11: Time tracking, attendance, and other key performance indicators
If a financial services organization uses hour-based salary calculation, you should naturally keep track of the number of hours worked by each employee and maintain a precise time record.
In an office environment, it is possible to observe who is present even if attendance is not recorded. When managing remote employees, it might be challenging to understand what exactly is happening in your team and how long each employee has been working. There is a minority of people who are motivated enough and don't need to be tracked on attendance. Still, most require some level of discipline, especially when working from home.
Time tracking software like ClickUp, ProofHub, Tick, and others can handle these metrics and track websites visited, time wasted, time worked, and break time control.
Tip 12: Organize a time synchronization system for communication in different time zones
In case your advisors’ team members are located in different time zones, make sure you have a synchronized period of time when all your employers work simultaneously. Hold virtual meetings during this part of the day.
Tip 13: Provide quarterly reviews to check your virtual team results
One of the challenges when managing remote employees is that people may feel isolated. This style of employment isn't perfect for everyone. Most employees enjoy the flexibility that comes with telework, but it's crucial to check their results regularly and make sure they are successful.
Tip 14: Test new employees in short-term jobs
You are not required to employ someone full-time immediately. You can try working with a person on a minor project, and if both parties are satisfied, switch to full working mode. However, moving to a full-time status shouldn’t take too long, as the employee's attention will be divided on a part-time or temporary job. Full-time staff depend on your business for their livelihood and are more likely to remain loyal for an extended term.
Tip 15: Pay well for your virtual team
Since there is a large number of candidates who wish to work remotely, a number of professionals agree to get paid less for the opportunity to work from home. While it is true that you may find individuals ready to work for lower wages, if you pay your financial associates properly, you can be guaranteed that they will do an excellent job and remain for a long time with your company.
Tip 16: Look for employees who are suitable for remote work
Try to find out about their home environment. Do they have a secluded place to work? Do children, roommates, and neighbors distract them at home? On the other hand, do they live all alone? Distractions and isolation can grow into a problem; ensure your team is both happy and productive while working remotely.
Tip 17: Create a standard training process for new hires
Remote employees are deprived of the opportunity to learn from your example, like onsite workers in a regular office. Therefore, when hiring, consider that you have a training program (video tutorials, for example) that trains new employees on your organization and its daily processes. Do as much as you can to help new advisors adapt and play an integral role in your company.
Tip 18: Inspire with videoclips
Remote employees may miss the feeling of the corporate culture. It is difficult to create and maintain a culture by texting. Thus, making videos and using video conferencing services is preferable. Recording conferences for future staff might be quite beneficial. Use video clips to inspire your team and reinforce core concepts about the company's culture (such as your vision and mission).
Tip 19: Meet in person
Managing remote staff makes it harder to form genuine connections within the firm. Arrange face-to-face meetings as often as possible, at least several times a year. This is the most effective strategy for improving the financial services company's internal communications.
Tip 20: Develop virtual friendships
Remember that your remote team consists of actual people who need communication. It's fantastic if employees can connect and socialize outside of work, but it's even better if these demands can be addressed through virtual work. This is especially critical for departments with little communication, such as software developers.
Tip 21: Create a real feeling of team spirit
Remote work may require extra effort to maintain a sense of loyalty to your team. Employees need to know that they not only contribute to the achievement of their team's goal but are also valuable to the firm's success. Share a vision for the company's future and keep your advisors aware of how things are going. Involve the whole team in important events and projects. Send meaningful gifts for birthdays and special occasions. Do everything to make people feel not like separate workers but truly part of the organization.
If you would like to learn all the subtleties and pitfalls of managing remote financial advisors, feel free to book a call with me or one of my team members at Provision People. We can walk you through some clear steps on how you can hire, teach and manage your dream remote team.