Remote work is a newer concept to many companies. Thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic, many of these organizations were forced into the whole thing. Two MIT surveys concluded that about half of the whole American workforce has gone remote.
Regardless of size, companies have had to incorporate the work from home option into their operations. Apart from the obvious safety and health concerns, another important factor is childcare. Until educational institutes are conducting offline classes again, employees might need to be physically present in their homes.
The point is, having a plan for remote work is just the prudent thing to do; doesn’t matter if your state has allowed in-person working or not. As long as there are employees who get work done outside the workspace, you need to consider leaves and PTOs.
With that comes the responsibility of tracking said leaves properly. If the company falls under government assistance criteria, they may also need to track emergency leave and sick leaves.
But, leaves for remote teams are different than leaves for regular, physical teams. For instance, a recent PTO curveball requires leaves related to COVID-19 to be tracked separately in compliance with local, state, and federal governance.
Companies are doing everything in their power to keep efficiency at an all-time high despite the limitations. In a time like this, ignoring leave management is a certified death wish for any organization.
So, how exactly do leaves for remote teams work?
A leave policy has to be made for all kinds of employees – whether they drive into work or get everything done from home.
How Much Vacation Time Should Employees Get
The answer depends on the company. There’s not a fixed number as employers aren’t required to offer paid or unpaid leaves. Vacation time is another form of time-off to consider. Some companies only grant vacation leave to full-time employees. In contrast, others sanction leave to all levels of employees.
An agreement between the employer and their employee determines the vacation pay. It could either be a collective bargaining agreement, an employment contract, or a company policy.
The Many Advantages of Having Remote Teams
A remote work model is the only method to achieve higher productivity in a few industries. However, even if you don’t necessarily have to form remote teams, there are quite a few pros of telework. To name a few:
There’s no commuting cost as well as a decreased need to operate from a physical workspace. This can increase savings.
Less stress for employees and improved work-life balance have no other alternative. In a time like COVID-19 mental peace is important. The more satisfied the workforce, the more likely they are to give their best efforts and stay loyal to the company. Employee turnover rate can be expected to decrease.
New generation employees greatly value flexibility. When a business is willing to hear and value new ideas, they attract talents from all across the world, add diversity to their teams, and ultimately increase competitive advantage in the long run.
However, a prerequisite to gaining these advantages is managing the telecommuting teams properly and ensuring that the employee(s) is/are available when needed. Many big businesses rely on PTO trackers or leave trackers to monitor which employee is unavailable and how many days they have left in their leave calendar. A good employee leave tracker app will also include payments and other important data.
Before making any plan, the remote team’s characteristics must be taken into account – that’s a pivotal step. Not all teams will react to the same practices equally. Finding the one that aligns with them is essential.
On that note, let’s explore a few options, shall we?
A Complete Guide to Managing Leave for Remote Teams
· Implement a Smart Leave Management System Early
A distinguishing factor of remote teams is the increased degree of flexibility. The very premise of telework relies on employers trusting their employees enough to know they will be able to perform their assigned tasks efficiently. This means that in addition to choosing where they want to work, remote workers can also decide when to work.
With that said, devoid of any control, a commuting team’s progress can slow down and they may go off track. A manager must ensure that the employees are putting in the right amount of hours daily and their schedules are accommodating effective communication. Performance bottlenecks are the last thing you want.
A time tracking solution can be implemented for the former issue. For the latter, it’s crucial to adopt a top-notch system for leave management and team schedules as such a system offers the most convenient way to plan employee availability and timetable.
Take Day Off as an example. This employee time off tracker comes with plenty of helpful tools for streamlining worker absence management. You can make sub-teams while setting different policies, working days, and balances for each. Once a leave request comes in, HR can get a consolidated view of the entire workforce’s vacations.
The automated system allows employees to apply for leaves directly from the mobile app. They can also check how many days they have available while helping the business set up the right workflow for the teams and employees.
· Let Employees Know What’s Expected of Them from the Start
A leave management system is only as effective as the organization’s rules and policies. You can’t progress without structure – that’s an open invitation to chaos. It’s crucial on the managers’ part to communicate expectations of remote work to their team members.
Designing and implementing a telework policy is one of the best ways to handle that. The document should cover issues like cybersecurity, communication, conditions of employment, occupational safety, and more. For improved leave management outcomes, discussion of the company’s leave requests, scheduling processes and other relevant matters is key.
You have to answer questions like:
- How many hours should employees work on a daily or weekly basis?
- Should employees be performing at a specific time of the working hours?
- How quick is the leave approval process?
- Which tools do they have to use to inform supervisors or managers about alterations in their personal routines?
Consider the additional expectations you have when it comes to absence and schedule management in the business and try your best to clearly communicate them to the remote team. Apart from the set telework policy, this can be done through group and personal discussion.
· Encourage Planned Leaves
SHRM says that unplanned absenteeism cuts down on productivity as well as other financial processes of a business. On the other hand, planned leaves promote an efficient attitude in employees, letting them plug off to recharge only to come back with more zeal.
Thus, managers are advised to encourage remote employees, in general, to plan their time off and PTOs in advance. Longer breaks are better.
It’s good to utilize a vacation tracker app for this as well. For example, the Day Off app makes it easier for HR managers to track employees’ yearly balances plus approval status. You will now be able to set up a better workflow for your employees and teams.
The app also lets you define an unlimited number of vacation types. All in all, it allows for error-free and effortless planning of PTO.
Unplanned leaves are harder to avoid completely – employees will fall sick once in a while. Not to mention unprecedented personal emergencies require utmost attention immediately. Circling back to a previous point, this is why staying flexible in terms of leave requests and scheduling is extremely important when dealing with remote teams.
· Organize Meetings and Video Calls Regularly
Generally, team members are physically located quite far from each other. They may reside in different cities or even hail from different countries and continents. It’s natural for remote teams to not feel a strong sense of connection amongst the members.
Employees can feel isolated from colleagues and lonely and as a consequence, maybe much less engaged in teamwork. In fact, they might not even be committed to their company as a whole.
Situations like this can force remote employees to take more unplanned leaves or even resign from their jobs. There is no substitute for insightful long-distance communication for successful leave management in remote teams.
You can encourage employees to interact with their remote colleagues face to face using web-based conferencing tools. Organize brief daily video calls where employees will talk about their current performance and discuss any problems their team members are facing while working.
Furthermore, video calls can serve as a great means to increase team cohesion and boost employee morale. It doesn’t always have to be a serious discussion. Gather the employees in a chat room to engage in light-hearted conversation with them once a month. It will help everyone feel like a valuable part of the team and establish meaningful human relationships.
· Always Be Available
A leader of a remote team must always be available for multiple reasons:
When managers are present at work and show a great deal of attention to their managerial duties, employees become more motivated to produce the best results too.
Newly remote workers will experience troubles every now and then. If they do not have a superior to help them out instantly, chances are, and they will become discouraged. Consequently, they might start to invest less time and effort into work when they feel nobody cares about the output or wants to support them.
Without consistent manager-employee communication, it’s difficult to understand actual worker contribution. A manager can only provide unbiased constructive feedback and praise achievements when they’re constantly in touch with their team. In general, staying connected with employees is highly rewarding in any work environment.
You, as a leader and manager, must be available to your remote teammates all the time and be prepared to help them.
Inform employees how they can reach out to you throughout the day and try to provide multiple contact options: phone number, email, social media handles, whatnot. This simple yet effective measure will go a long way in making everyone feel heard and supported.
· Gather and Analyze Employee Leave Data
Data of any factor of team performance is extremely informative and useful to businesses. Employee leave statistics will show how good the management approach is when analyzed against the growth and output data.
This way, you can identify the problems in a remote team’s conduct and fix those. Knowledge like that can help you enhance team management strategies in addition to fostering numerous improvements with a better approach.
With the free time off tracker Day Off, employee leave data is readily available to the HR managers. Employees can self-service and keep a better track of the leaves disposable to them.
One of the best time off apps available, Day off allows companies to input their information and customize everything according to need. Once done, all that can be accessed from the central HR dashboard.
As a result, companies have greater transparency in the sector of leave management for remote teams. Collected data provides deeper insight into leave trends.
A smart leave management system will optimize management as a whole. And the best part about it is that it’s a free vacation tracker. You can pay $1 a month for one employee to get the pro features. That will come with perks like half-day balance. Startups and companies on a budget will find this app extremely useful.
Don’t feel like you have to make all management decisions alone. As you try to come up with the best leave management policies for remote teams, feel free to get the input of your employees.
Is there a certain policy you think will serve the interest of the company and employees the best? Communicate educate the employees about the policies you will establish your business in a superior position.