The sudden closure of many offices and businesses this past year unlocked a new era of remote work for millions of employees around the world. It is now the time for businesses to bounce back and seize the new opportunities emerging in the recovery. This includes hiring remote workers and making your business a remote-ready company. 

This kind of setup will be a huge adjustment for you and your employees. If this is your first time managing remote employees, navigating and ensuring that employees are productive, engaged, and thriving can be scary. This transition to remote communication removes the personal context that helps the employers and employees interact with each other.

One of the common issues when managing a remote team is answering a simple question “What is my team working on?” When you were in the office, you could rely on observation, meetings, and one-on-one conversations to figure out what your people were doing. Now that you are remote, you have fewer data points and observational cues on hand; you may easily feel disconnected and detached from your team. As a leader, you are responsible for the outcome/result that your team is currently working on. It’s your job to know what is going on. But how would you do this if you are all working remotely?

Let us first define what accountability is for Remote workers. It means the obligation to accept responsibility for their actions and deliver a commitment to their assigned set of tasks. They need to have a better understanding of how this works in order for them to provide quality output. 

How would you keep your remote employees accountable?

This is one of the biggest questions managers/employers have. Allowing employees to work remotely requires a certain level of trust in your team. You also need to implement a system that encourages productivity and engagement. Every manager should implement a few policies to generate a well-collaborated remote team.

  1. Set clear expectations from the beginning- set specific and measurable goals, provide guidelines, set boundaries, and stick with the deadlines are the most important steps to take when setting out on your project. If this first step has been executed correctly, it will provide clarity and get everyone on the same page. 
  2. Build a Culture of Accountability- make everyone responsible. Make sure you clearly outline their roles and responsibilities individually. Creating a culture of accountability in your workplace can have a variety of benefits. It can boost your employees morale, feel more engaged, which will lead to improving the quality of their work. They will also feel confident in their tasks and can help your employees feel comfortable being creative, which can lead to new innovations. 
  3. Inform the team members of each other’s goals- It’s better to have your team share their individual goals with each other. The more visibility everyone has, the more your team can leverage their individual strengths and collaborate effectively. It will also be easier for them to work towards their common goals. 
  4. Use software or shared task management software to track the accountability of your virtual employees- I know that the keyword here is trust, but it doesn’t have to be blind trust. You need to ensure things stay on track. Aside from the objective reporting benefits, it is also a way to protect your company’s assets and avoid any unauthorized data transfers. It can also provide a way for employees in different locations to work together in real-time. 
  5. Stay in constant communication- having a healthy conversation and being open to any suggestions will help your team to work more effectively. Communication is a challenge, especially in a remote work environment; you must think of ways to keep your team members engaged and accountable. There are many tools that you can use to promote effective communication when engaging with your people virtually. Emails, Video calls, direct messages, and phone calls are some of the most commonly used communication tools. Many companies have a morning meeting or an afternoon check-in with the entire team to ensure that people are talking on a regular basis. 
  6. Show Leadership- As a leader, you must create a good remote work culture and show accountability at work. Set a good example for your employees so that they emulate positive behavior.  

Though there are a lot of benefits of hiring a remote worker, we need to ensure that we are delivering the results in a timely manner.  In an accountable work culture, both accomplishments and missteps are acknowledged to facilitate continued learning and growth of the company or business. Maintaining accountability is an essential part of a remote team’s success.