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Practical Tips and Tools for Managing Remote Employees

Tonya Schulte
Posted by Tonya Schulte on Jan 19, 2022 7:40:40 AM

Many accounting and bookkeeping practices were able to easily transition to remote work at the beginning of the pandemic. Although many professionals have returned to "the office", it is clear that remote work is here to stay in our profession. If you are managing remote employees, here are six practical tips (along with tools) that might make your job a bit easier.

1. Make recruiting well a top priority

Establish what type of person you need for the job in your mind. For example, do you need someone for data entry or someone who can manage people?

Some steps you can take include:

  • Write a description of what tasks, duties, and skills will be required.
  • Develop or use an accounting assessment.
  • Use further assessments to determine underlying factors like attention to detail or company culture fit.
  • Ask your employees, collaborative partners, or colleagues for recommendations.
  • Use established placement services – such as Indeed.

Here are a couple of tools that might help during the interTool to consider for recruiting:

SparkHire - video interviewing software. SparkHire has very helpful features, including the ability for your interviewee to self-record a one-way video interview plus more traditional tasks you would consider such as interview scheduling or posting evaluations within the software. 

WizeHire - hiring solution. WizeHire is a robust hiring solution, including high touch support (including ad review and optimization by a hiring coach), ad posting to 100+ job boards (including the major ones), personality and personalized assessments to determine the right fit. 

2. Establish systems and procedures

If the systems or procedures you use for your accounting firm are stored only in your head, everything can and will go awry when your head needs to rest. Document, document, and then document some more.

Here are a few tools to consider for efficiently documenting procedures. 

3. Keep remote employees in the loop

In any business, communication is key. With remote employees, it is even more critical. Communicate, communicate, communicate! You get the picture.

Tools for doing so include:

  • Google Workspace with Slack
  • Microsoft Office with Teams
  • Zoom
  • Old school (phone calls, text messages, email)

4. Maintain company culture

Maintaining company culture is imperative for success, whether in an established office setting or remote teams. I felt it was so important for remote teams that I wrote another article, 3 Tips for Managing Remote Firms, wholly devoted to that subject.

5. Set clear expectations

Setting clear expectations of your team members is crucial for you and imperative for your team members. Employees prefer knowing what you want and expect of them. They don’t want to take the time or use their brainpower to figure out what they need to do or how they should behave.

Develop and communicate your precise expectations. A few issues to consider are:

  • What are the factors concerning project or deadline completion?
  • How to deal with missed compulsory online meetings.
  • Decorum – What are the dress requirements during online company meetings instead of online meetings with clients or others? What words are not acceptable?
  • What tolerance will there be for household interruptions such as pets, children, or others? (I recommend thinking in terms of both grace and justice.)
  • Is an employee handbook needed?

Sidenote: When I asked Yvonne, our office mom, to develop an employee handbook, she said her idea would be to keep it short and sweet. She felt the full manual could be reduced to four short words – don’t be a jerk. Of course, since "jerkery" can be somewhat subjective, her idea didn’t win out.

6. Maintain proper cybersecurity practices

Maintaining cybersecurity is imperative not only for your remote employees but also for your remote clients. Unless you know a great deal about the technology involved, you will need to secure the services of an IT specialist who understands your business and your needs.

Also, be sure to create redundancies for your document information and collection. Be sure more than one person knows how and has access to procedures and documents.

Tools suggested are:

Closing Thoughts

No matter where your team members are located, things happen. Meet obstacles and interference with the same determination and attitude you would use in an “in-person” office. For example, the frustration of having one of your team members down for a day because of loss of internet is trumped by the fact that remote teams aren’t likely to all lose connectivity at the same time – as would happen in a “regular” office.

Here are a few other nuggets for you to keep in mind:

  • When possible, consider getting your remote team together on occasion, even if it is only once a year. (The annual Scaling New Heights conference is a great opportunity to connect with your team and get training for you and your team.)
  • Assign remote mentors to new hires so “the new kid on the block” has someone to rely on for questions and getting oriented in the first few months.
  • Always ask for and listen to feedback from your employees.
  • Have daily online meetings with the entire team. Include “shout out” time so you and your employees can recognize other team members or outstanding clients, or excellent service providers you use. Just as success breeds success, enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm.

Working remotely has a few challenges, but it also has great rewards for both you and your employees.

Topics: Practice Management


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