The HR issues of managing remote staff

How to manage staff across locations

Growing your business means more than just more money through the door. It’ll often mean more people, and those people are going to need more space.

You can rearrange an office, and roster on more shifts. But for hospitality, retail and healthcare, sooner or later, that’ll mean adding another location.

Everything’s easy to manage when all your people are in the one place. As you expand, there’s the excitement of growth, but you’ll also face new challenges.

How will you maintain your company culture? How will you make sure your business is functioning when you’re not there all the time?

At easyEMPLOYER, we’ve seen many of our clients expand to multiple locations. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and tips for easing the growing pains.

Staying aligned

Business culture is created first and foremost by the owners and the founding members of your team. As you expand, it’s vital that you don’t lose track of this. You don’t just need more bodies to do the work; you need them to share your vision and values.

Recruiting the right people plays a part in getting that alignment. But values need to be maintained once those people are on board. For your employees on the ground, their manager is their main contact with your company — the person they see every day. Make sure your mid-level managers are living and communicating your values.

How can you test this to see what’s happening on the ground? Creating a direct channel of communication from low-level staff through to senior management is a start.

If you’re operating on sites located throughout the city, or the state, it’s not practical to visit each site every day. This is where technology is a huge help. Using video conferencing for major meetings, for example, reminds staff that you’re more than just a voice on the phone.

Staying in touch

When your business was smaller, it was easy to walk over to someone’s desk for a chat. As your business grows, you’re also going to need to scale up internal communication.

Most businesses don’t operate on the same scale as McDonalds, which has 1.8 million employees working in 100 countries. After revamping their internal communications platform with short articles, photos, chat functions and more, they saw their staff engagement skyrocket by 40% within the first year.

Luckily, you don’t need a McDonald’s level budget to replicate some parts of this experience. A simple, regular newsletter will help share stories between disperse locations.

An online collaboration tool can also help people in similar roles talk to their counterparts to solve common problems. Basecamp, Slack and Zoho are well-established and reasonably priced. If your staff don’t spend much time at a desk, it’s easy to find something similar that works on mobile.

While technology is fantastic to manage the everyday, don’t forget the importance of meeting face-to-face. Find ways to get your employees together every now and then. Training is great opportunity — try to include a fun activity and make sure you give people time to socialise.

Staying productive

Running a thriving business demands more than just office paint-ball sessions, though. You also need to keep an eye on performance.

This is one more aspect of management that’s easier when you’re smaller. With an employee in a different suburb — or even a different state, how do you track their effectiveness, and that of their team?

We’ll tackle that question in our next post.