Tips for Managing a Remote Worker Who is Not Productive

Every leader knows that what motivates one employee may demotivate another. Couple that with new, remote working conditions and managing employees can be more challenging than ever.

Remote work has become an integral part of the new normal, with many businesses implementing ways to continue their operations without compromising safety. With the help of technology, automation, and many advanced tools available today, remote work is now more executable than before. That said, the current situation has pushed many companies to shift to this model without fully preparing for it. Moving from a traditional to remote work setting requires adjustments for both company owners and employees, especially since day-to-day operations will proceed differently.

As employees transition into the changes brought about by the work setting, they may experience difficulties in finding a work-life balance and allotting ample time to do work. As a manager or business owner, one of the biggest issues you may face is a lack of motivation and productivity. Engaging with your employees remotely can be challenging since you are relying on virtual platforms. However, remote work’s emerging popularity shows that with the right digital tools and management practices, you will be able to lead your team effectively. Now throw into the mix that YOU as their leader are also likely to be working remotely too.

Not every employee likes or wants to work from home, and certainly some are more productive than others. So, what do you do when you have a team member who is not productive? Below, you will find some coaching tips that you can use to help make your remote team more productive.

Utilize Collaboration Tools

Selecting the right tools to use is crucial in managing a remote team, but this step is often overlooked. For instance, project management tools help create a smooth flow of communication among employees from different departments, allowing for easy collaboration. (Some tools are: Basecamp, Asana or This type of software enables employees to access company data and track important dates or schedules so that everyone is well-informed. Likewise, time management tools can help your team track their progress and see if any task requires more time and attention.

Making sure that deadlines are established and creating “to-dos” on these platforms helps you keep your team members accountable.

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Schedule Weekly Video Conference Meetings

Much like having staff meetings in the office, there are many tools to conduct these same meetings via video conference (zoom, Google Meet, GoToWebinar are a few). As much as you can, make these meeting mandatory and each team member to contribute a status update. Getting the team to interact can motivate some workers to increase their productivity because they have to share it with the team.

In addition to staff meetings, set up a one-on-one with each team member every week. Even if the only thing you cover is asking about their challenges and issues, meeting face to face keeps the employee engaged and lets them know you are still their leader.

A daily motivational text or email would also add a nice touch, especially if you insert a little humor!

 Manage Deliverables, not Time

One of the biggest challenges employees have with remote work is trying to achieve a work-life balance, especially since their workplace and home have meshed into one. Depending on the home-life of your employee, some may need daytime hours to handle children’s or other family member’s needs. While some people will work around this by working earlier in the day or later at night, what should really matter, is whether or not they are meeting their deliverables. Entrust your employees to work the necessary hours as long as they are producing their work.

Find a Middle Ground in Managing

Moving to remote work for the first time will require you to make changes with how you manage your team. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how exactly you should manage them. That said, it is important for you to find middle ground between being detached versus micromanaging your employees. Naturally, you still have to exert authority and control your team’s performance, but you also want to avoid being overly involved with every small aspect. As always, communication is key, so if you are unsure about where this middle ground is, ask your team about the management style they find to be the most effective.