Virtual Management is no joke but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun! Take a page from authors, Ben Bisbee and Kathy Wisniewski. Their new book, “The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management” should be on the must-read list of anyone who works with virtual assistants.
This guide is not for those looking to decide if virtual management is right for them. Rather, this book leaves behind building-block arguments of why virtual management works and focuses on how to be an effective virtual manager.
Co-author Ben Bisbee shares what inspired them to write this book:
“Every book we’d ever seen in our own careers within virtual management either read like ‘you can too!’ or ‘here is how you build a team…’. and the problem was, we were already fully engaged in virtual management and we already had teams or people reporting to us. So we knew there needed to be a book for people just like us. A book for folks already fully engaged in everyday management of a virtual workforce, covering a wide variety of topics that seemed un-Googleable. A book that was real and honest and had a sense of humor too.”
At E-Typist, we understand the value of a virtual workforce. We are seeing the demand for work from home jobs increase. According to Owl Labs, 16% of global companies are fully remote.
“Virtual employment is one of the fastest growing professional areas in just about every white-collar industry area,” shares Bisbee. “We needed to move past the idea of virtual management being ‘novel’ or ‘possible.’It’s 2020. It’s happening. It’s been happening for decades. People need real tools about real topics to help them be the best they can be as managers behind a computer, leading one or more people to success.
It’s clear why the demand for virtual employment exists. According to FlexJobs, 97% of workers say that a job with flexibility would create a positive impact on their overall quality of life. “The Unashamed Guide to Virtual Management” aims to provide tools to managers to ensure employee satisfaction and workplace productivity.
Here are five lessons all virtual managers can use to streamline work from home employees:
1. Set the Tone for Morale Early
Positive company morale is the key to running any successful business. As a virtual manager, you have the power to set that tone right from the first point of contact.
Bisbee and Wisniewski suggest starting this positivity during the hiring process. A positive first impression sets the right tone. Express your excitement about working for the brand and ensure that potential employees know you are there as a resource.
For an existing virtual team you already manage, you can boost morale by setting up regular milestones to celebrate. If morale slips, make sure your team knows you are open to feedback and willing to make changes that work best for the group.
2. Outline Expectations Clearly
The nine-to-five life looks very different for a cubicle dwelling employee than a virtual assistant working from their home office. Both employees are professional, competent and efficient but time zones present a very real challenge for virtual employees.
At E-Typist, all of our virtual assistants are based in the US but that still represents a possible three hour time difference between the east and west coast clients and virtual employees.
Managing virtual employees requires strong communication skills. As virtual managers, it’s important to lay out the working hour expectations. You also have to recognize that things may come up. Make sure you outline how to request time off or ensure a shift is covered in their absence.
3. Be Flexible With Time, Not Deadlines
Since virtual employees work from home, there’s nothing stopping them from working longer or shorter on certain days. If your clients and workflow allows, it’s okay to be flexible with how and when your virtual employees complete tasks.
Set benchmarks for managing productivity that are not tied to punching a clock. Bisbee and Wisniewski argue that creating deadlines and benchmarks helps to manage how effective employees are being with their time.
No one likes to be micromanaged. Providing this kind of flexibility with scheduling creates employee happiness and satisfaction.
4. Employee Handbooks Are Not Dead
Bisbee and Wisniewski are big proponents of rules and regulations. Virtual management may be a newer way to conduct business but it’s not a total reinvention of how to successfully manage employees.
As a virtual manager, you may serve as your own human resources department. An employee handbook is a classic tool to outline employee expectations. It’s also an easy way for your employees to reference guidelines during your offline hours.
The Employee Handbook is a classic tool but don’t forget to review it yearly to ensure you are “covering your assets,” according to Bisbee and Wisniewski.
5. You Can Still Build a Team Online
Without a water cooler to gather around, how can your employees build rapport? The answer is to use technology tools to build company culture online.
Bisbee and Wisniewski suggest a virtual scavenger hunt to engage employees in a fun way of working together. Map out the goals of what you want your team building to accomplish.
Even thousands of miles apart, virtual employees can serve as resources to each other. Online team building through technology tools can only help your business grow.
Have any additional lessons we missed? Let us know in the comments below!