Recent studies have found that remote workers are more productive, happier and achieve a better work-life balance. As more organizations are using remote workers, managing these workers is a skill every manager will need to learn. Here are several tips I found helpful when managing remote workers.
Managing a remote workforce can be a bit more challenging. Setting up a management environment that is inclusive of these workers is a top priority. The first indication of the management requirements of an employee comes during the on-boarding process. It will show me their level of organization, personality and time management skills. While we hope all employees will “hit the ground running” realistically that is just not the case. Identifying these workers up front who need more oversight and coaching on their work assignments is important, not just for the worker, but for the other members of the team.
The Human Connection
It is important to find ways to connect with your remote team members. When you are in the same office you can create a personal connection and gauge their responses in person. With remote workers it is quite different to build a relationship and show compassion. You will want to create opportunities to demonstrate you care by listening to what is important to them and ask questions. Showing that you care about their lives inside and outside of work will help to create a stronger connection and a happier worker.
Be Clear – Remote workers do not have the benefit of interpreting body language, so it is crucial to be very clear with communications.
Schedule Regular Meetings – Checking in regularly helps facilitate feedback and build rapport directly with your employee. It also helps you to identify problems early and set performance improvement goals.
Give Feedback – Include your remote employees when you are giving praise or recognition. It is important to make this timely and specific. Depending on the feedback, determine if it is best delivered over the phone or electronically. Employees typically crave feedback so set aside time to talk one-on-one with your employees on a regular basis.
Ask Their Opinion – Working outside the office gives employees a different perspective on operational issues. Ask them what they think or how they might do things differently. By soliciting their feedback, it makes them feel part of the team.
Trust – It can be easy to assume a worker is slacking if they are unresponsive. Don’t jump to conclusions before you know the facts. It could be a connectivity problem, personal issue or they are heads down trying to meet a deadline. Keep the communication flowing and give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s important for managers to not only embrace technology but to recruit tech-savvy team members who understand the importance of collaboration. Collaboration tools are essential for design and developments teams. Video conferencing provides a reliable way to communicate and see each other. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools connect the sales and support teams across the organization. As a manager, it’s essential to leverage the organizations software tools to keep your in-house and remote workers connected and productive.
Start with the basics – Cover work schedule, after hours availability, lunch breaks, introduction to other team members, meeting schedule and communications.
Work Requirements – Clearly define the work requirements, deliverables and timelines. Check in regularly to answer questions and check on their progress.
Tools– Strive to connect remote employees to the corporate software tools on Day 1. Provide an overview of the tools and direct them to tutorials if available. Have someone available from IT to work on remote connectivity. Set expectations on communication response times.
Managing a remote workforce has its benefits and challenges. Adding these tips to your management toolbox can help you better engage with your remote workers. Are there additional tips you have found that work well?
Contributed by: Amy Noel