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Supervising employees remotely? Get 7 tips to boost your effectiveness

Supervising employees

New research shows that supervisors are doing a good job overall at managing those who work remotely, but there is room for improvement in four key areas.

More than three quarters (76%) of Canadian workers surveyed felt their boss was a good remote manager, but also pointed out they could do a better job at communicating (29%), promoting work-life balance (21%), giving recognition (20%), and offering support in difficult situations (12%).[1]

“It’s important for supervisors and managers to be highly effective in all these areas to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their remote workers,” says WSPS Account Manager Leena Paul. “Remote workers are susceptible to hazards like musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), but also isolation, overwork, stress, and burnout.”

Leena offers seven tips to help boost supervisors’ effectiveness.

  1. Check in regularly. “Ask your remote workers about how they are feeling and how their week is going. Create a safe place where they can discuss their challenges — whether work-related or personal — and ask them how you support them.”
  2. Be flexible about work hours and workload. Another survey found that nearly half of senior managers enable employees to choose when they work. And 31% don’t mind if their direct reports put in fewer than 40 hours a week, so long as the job gets done.[2] “This is an important trend,” says Leena. “Many home office workers are finding it difficult to manage family and work responsibilities in a fixed 9-to-5 day. They need more flexible hours and may require reduced workloads.” Determine the best work arrangements for each employee, and modify or prioritize work so that workers do not feel overwhelmed.
  3. Encourage workers to disconnect. It’s hard to disconnect if workers are receiving after-work communications. “Supervisors need to respect workers’ personal time and not email or phone after their workday ends. Encourage workers to unplug, and take their breaks and vacation time.” (See 6 tips to launch a disconnect policy now)
  4. Rethink meetings. “I think we’re a little bit meeting happy,” says Leena. In fact, 52% of survey workers said they were attending more video calls now than six months ago, and many felt that at least one-third of time spent in meetings was wasted.[3] “It’s time to step back and ask, do we really need to have this many meetings?” says Leena. “Can we lower the frequency? Can we restructure the meetings to make them more efficient and productive?”
  5. Ask for feedback before introducing new policies. “Develop policies with the support of your remote workforce, don’t impose policies on them. You need to understand the challenges they face.”
  6. Recognize accomplishments. Recognition boosts morale, shows appreciation, and makes your remote workers feel connected. Be innovative. Thank people one on one, at team meetings or town halls or, if possible, send gift cards or baskets to team members.
  7. Offer support in difficult situations. “Having an open dialogue with employees is the best route to offering support,” says Leena. “Listen to their suggestions about how you and your employer can help.” Also, make sure workers know about the programs offered through your employee and family assistance program and in the community.

How WSPS can help

The information in this article is accurate as of its publication date.


1 “Survey Reveals How Canadian Workers Feel About Their Remote Manager,” Robert Half Talent Solutions, October 13, 2021; https://www.roberthalf.ca/en/like-a-boss-robert-half-survey-reveals-how-canadian-workers-feel-about-their-remote-manager

2 “Survey: 48 Per Cent of Managers in Canada Allow Employees to Set Their Own Hours,” Ibid, https://www.roberthalf.ca/en/survey-48-per-cent-of-managers-in-canada-allow-employees-to-set-their-own-hours

3 Ibid.