Driving Accountability for Your Remote Workforce

Whether you’ve been managing remote teams for years, or just recently started, you know that it’s different. How do you manage people you can’t see? How do you continue to function at a high level when you can’t physically bring your team together? And how on earth do you hold them accountable when no one comes to the office?

We’ve presented below several real actions that can help. But, for these actions to work, a culture of trust and transparency must be in place. Start by hiring entrepreneurial-minded people you can trust. Create a safe space for them to seek help and even fail once in a while, without fear of disciplinary action. As a leader, set the example by sharing candidly – both your failures as well as your triumphs. You’ll inspire your teams to do the same. Now, let’s begin.

Communication is king.
Consistent communication is a crucial component of any highly functioning team, but for a remote team, it’s an absolute requirement. Here are a few great ways to make it happen:

  • Use a chat or messaging tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams to provide a place to talk and collaborate. You won’t be able to mimic the water cooler exactly, but this is a great start.
  • Schedule daily “huddles” for your team. These are designed to be quick check-ins (think 15 minutes or less) to discuss project progress, impending obstacles and brainstorm solutions. You may also know them as “stand ups”. They’re so fast, no one even has time to sit down.
  • The “Rule of 7” may be a little extreme, but definitely layer your messaging. Consider a combination of Zoom team calls, emails, virtual town halls, instant messaging, recorded video updates, newsletters and 1:1 meetings.

Set clear expectations and monitor progress.

Your employees won’t know what’s expected unless you tell them.  State (and then restate) your goals and expectations. Make sure your team knows your KPIs and your plans to achieve them. As you’re assessing progress, let productivity, and not a timesheet, be your guide:

  • Is your team meeting deadlines?
  • Are they producing at a high level?
  • Are they delighting clients?  Delivering sales?
  • Is the team supporting each other? Relying on each other?

When remote work is managed effectively, teams can be just as efficient and productive as they were in the office. Try to include learnings and accomplishments in your assessment, since an over-emphasis on output and deliverables can lead to burnout. And, when it’s time to celebrate wins, be as inclusive as possible but also be sure to celebrate those milestones alongside standard business achievements.

Use technology to reduce the urge to micromanage.

Introduce technology that allows your team to share work product, solicit and provide feedback and assign tasks. The software should allow you to manage your team and monitor their projects, while allowing your staff to show what work they’ve completed and to hold each other accountable.

Create a space for employees to collaborate and self-manage.

With all of this in place, you’ve essentially created a space where employees can self-motivate and manage their own and each other’s remote work. Staying motivated to perform high-quality work takes self-reflection, discipline and accountability.  Encourage individuals and teams to set goals that they then manage themselves.  Empower everyone to engage and develop relationships that offer support and collaboration, and better teamwork will result.

Get Together.

Remember, we need social interaction. Remote communication doesn’t allow everyone the interaction necessary to form long term positive connections.  While online and remote forms of communication help, they often lose the subtlety of personal interaction and hasty digital replies frequently results in frustration and miscommunication.  To form long term positive relationships with people, face-to-face contact is vital so schedule in-person meetings at least twice a year. 

Some of these are small, incremental steps – and some are a bit bigger. This framework will allow for a high-energy workflow. It will allow you to create a culture of accountability and trust. And perhaps most importantly, it will allow you to define success together.

The CFO Suite is a boutique consultative staffing and executive search firm specialized in management and executive level accounting and finance talent.  We boost the capabilities and capacity of your accounting and finance department, offering a unique ability to provide an integrated and comprehensive suite of services.


If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at  info@cfosuite.com