FEATURE — Working remotely and managing remote employees is a key trend for many businesses.
Those in charge of a team that is located away from company headquarters or hiring employees in remote locations, may benefit from the following tips to help maximize this new breed of staff.
Make time for small talk.
When managing remote employees, it’s easy to just talk about what needs to get done and jump off of your call, end your chat, and get back to executing. However, if that’s all you do, you’re really missing out on a critical part of management: building rapport. In other words, you need to get to know each team member as a complete person. Demonstrating you care is important to them and essential for you to truly understand their motivations.
Use video as much as you can.
Research shows more than half of human communication is nonverbal. When you don’t get to see someone in the office every day, having any type of visual clue to what someone is thinking is essential. There are many free and inexpensive solutions for video chat including Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom, so there’s really no reason not to switch to video whenever you can.
Have longer one on ones.
Since you don’t have all those moments in the office to build rapport and talk about issues ad hoc, make up for it by setting aside more time for your one-on-ones with your remote employees. Pick a time that always works for you for your remote meetings and make them sacred on your calendar. If you absolutely have to, reschedule it, but never cancel.
Send company swag.
Help remote workers feel pride in the company they are working for by sending them (and their family members, when applicable), some branded company goodies. It will help to remind them of how cool it is to work for your company instead of a more local business.
Don’t forget about their career advancement.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking of your remote team members as mercenaries who are all helping you get things done. But just like the people in your immediate office, they have goals and aspirations. Ensuring they make progress on their goals for growth and understand the career paths available by being remote avoids confusion or frustration.
Get together face to face at least once a year.
Nothing beats getting everyone together face to face to instill a sense of comradery and human connection. Plus, it’s exciting for your remote employees to meet each other in the flesh. Most importantly, you’ll build more rapport in a few days of team work in person than over months of remote efforts.
Remote work arrangements are definitely becoming more common; however, it’s important to treat your remote workers just as valuable as on-site employees. Use the tips above to help you manage these relationships more effectively and productively for your business.
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