It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by since Malta’s business were pushed (in some cases kicking and screaming) into remote working by COVID-19. In 2023, many employees are still working from home – at least through a hybrid format – meetings are done virtually, and entire recruitment drives are carried out online.

And, as Malta continues to experience historically low unemployment, with the unemployment rate at just 2.5 per cent in June 2023, this translates into an extremely tight labour market, pushing up HR costs and are limiting the ability of companies to sustain their growth. Many organisations hailing from specific industries, such as gaming, technology and some consulting-based companies, are resorting to hire roles on an entirely remote basis from overseas.

Indeed, while many local companies are faring well with a hybrid set up for their workers, opting for core business hours where the majority of the business are asked to work in-office, some are grappling with managing teams based in other countries, on an entirely remote basis.

Recognise employees’ needs

Managing a team remotely need not be difficult if you know your employees’ needs. Each employee has his or her own working style, so listening to what they need as you proceed is essential. Discover what motivates them and what sort of management they need – remember that this may differ to the approach you took in the office. And, while keeping the needs of the business front and centre remains critical, there is often some leeway to be provided in the various work styles of remote teams.

Stay connected

Some team members may feel isolated or cut off when working remotely for a long period of time, resulting in a lack of motivation. Combat this by taking the time to give regular feedback and updates about how the business is faring. It’s also important to give them praise for a job well done.

Trust your team

An essential ingredient to remote working success is a trust-based results-oriented approach. If you are flexible with your team’s needs, particularly if they’re new to the arrangement, you’ll reap the rewards. Measuring performance by output is key to a virtual-first environment.

Give employees a chance to grow

Learning and career growth are excellent motivators that attract and retain talent, and the opportunities available to remote workers should be no different. Set out a clear performance-management process which will enable you align company goals with your employees’ aspirations.

Finally, in the absence of impromptu in-person chats and meetings around the water cooler (or coffee pot), keeping in touch with your team is integral to successfully going virtual-first. Determine which communication tools work best for you and find the right balance to keep in touch about schedules, deadlines and resources without overdoing it.

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