a man working at home while figuring out how to manage a remote workforce

Before COVID-19, telecommuting was already a popular option for corporations throughout the country. This allowed employees to work remotely, usually from home. However, once the pandemic hit, telecommuting became more of a necessity. When managed correctly, a remote workforce can be an excellent solution for all types of businesses, insurance agency’s included!

For one thing, telecommuting brings down overhead expenses by reducing the cost of utility bills and expensive leases. So, from a business perspective, it offers several benefits. For employees, working remotely is also advantageous. This is especially true for those that typically drive long distances to their jobs, as well as for parents of young children. Telecommuting allows them to earn a living and better manage their household responsibilities.

Ways to Keep Remote Workers Productive and Happy

As stated, the key to success is to properly manage your insurance agency’s remote workforce. The following are some helpful tips on how you can do just that.

Establish Ground Rules and Expectations

Before you even implement a program for a remote workforce, you need to establish both ground rules and expectations. Telecommuting requires a lot of dedication and time management skills on the part of the employee. It’s up to you to create guidelines and set boundaries so that everyone is on the same page. With the team up and running, be sure to send out regular reminders. That’ll help avoid any confusion, particularly if something changes in the agency’s policies or structure.

Stay Organized

Regardless of the agency’s size or industry, every remote workforce must stay organized. For you, that entails providing employees with what they need. Not only does that include a desk, computer, phone, and other office items to use within the home but also in how you disseminate information. The goal is to streamline processes and respond quickly when necessary.

Be Flexible

Although telecommuting dates back 20 years or more, it’s somewhat different today due to increasing consumer demand and advanced technology. Along with that, every remote workforce consists of multiple positions, job responsibilities, and personalities. So, you can’t address issues that arise with a one-size-fits-all solution. Rather, you need to have some flexibility to accommodate the various scenarios as they arise.

Structure Meetings

When working in an office and holding in-person meetings, employees don’t typically feel rushed. With everyone in the same room, there’s usually ample time for a Q&A session. However, when managing your insurance agency’s remote workforce, you want to be considerate of the structure of the meetings.

Since people will dial in, there has to be a time limit and a plan that allows the appropriate individuals to address issues in an orderly fashion. You’ll need a moderator who can ensure that every meeting flows according to the agenda. That way, meetings are productive, and the attendees will feel as though management heard what they had to say.

Monitor Employee Progress

As already stated, it takes dedication and excellent time management skills for someone to telecommute. As the person in charge of a remote workforce, it’s important to stay on top of the progress that each person makes. This will go a long way in keeping your employees motivated.

Maintain Excellent Communication

Perhaps the most important factor when managing your agency’s workforce has to do with good communication. Along with regularly scheduled meetings, consider having each employee submit a brief report each week to their managers about their accomplishments and concerns.

Your managers can then have a quick conversation with each worker to hand out kudos, give constructive criticism, and address challenges. With support from your leadership team, not only should you notice an increase in productivity but also employee morale.

As part of the initial plan that you create regarding ground rules and expectations for your remote workforce, make sure that everyone understands that the agency’s managers have an “open door” policy. You want your employees to always feel comfortable communicating.

Be a Good Listener

A key trait seen in the best managers in the world is the ability to listen, which goes beyond normal communication. As a good listener, you can build a strong business relationship and unbreakable trust with your entire remote workforce. For example, if an employee brings up an actionable problem, confirm that you understand and then follow through to achieve resolution.

Get Creative

Sitting at home while working sounds easy, but it’s quite difficult sometimes. To keep your remote workforce motivated, engaged, and dedicated to the agency and specific job responsibilities, come up with some creative ways to show your appreciation. That might consist of a contest or some kind of team-building exercise. Yes, you want your employees to take their work seriously and enjoy being a part of the agency at the same time.

Don’t Micromanage

Especially when overseeing a remote workforce, it’s easy to become a micromanager. However, that’s a surefire way to create big problems. It all starts with hiring the right talent, providing proper training, having great managers, and then trusting everyone to do their job correctly.

This is where a brief weekly report and follow-up phone call can make a huge difference. This weekly review will help you avoid delving into every detail of what the team does. By implementing an excellent plan, you shouldn’t ever need to micromanage your remote workforce.

Celebrate Successes

When an employee reaches a milestone, meets or surpasses expectations, or excels in some other way, make sure you recognize their achievements. Unfortunately, some companies focus too much on missed deadlines, average performances, and other mistakes. While you need to address those things, you also need to celebrate successes.