The idea of managing remote workers can initially seem odd. Fortunately, many of the management strategies you use today work for these employees as well. To help you get your footing in the changing business landscape, here are some key factors to help you keep job duties on target and ensure that everyone, no matter where they work from, is providing the quality work you have come to expect from in-office employees.
The strangeness of the paradigm makes many managers feel the need to overcompensate since these employees are not immediately in view. Often, this is unnecessary. Telecommuting employees were hired for a particular job because they possessed the required skills. They were vetted like any other person working for the organization. Recognize that you have hired just as well as you would for positions in the office, and avoid micromanaging remote workers merely because they aren’t physically present.
To help alleviate any concerns, make sure your expectations are clear. This can include specifying job duties and establishing priorities, as well as setting standards for communication. If you need updates on a regular basis, make sure the remote worker knows what you need. It can be hard for telecommuters, especially those whom you’ve never met in person, to understand what you want without it being spoken to in a definitive manner. By outlining what you need, they are better equipped to handle their tasks in a way that works for you.
Aside from any defined expectations, encourage remote workers to communicate with you and the rest of the team one a regular basis. Make sure you respond to telecommuters in a timely fashion, and they do the same. Have the rest of the team treat their communications with a similar level of priority as well. This keeps the remote worker apprised of current happenings and prevents them from feeling overly segregated from everyone else.
Hold regular staff meetings via conference call. Set them to recur on a standard schedule at a time that is acceptable to all team members. In between staff meetings, make sure co-workers are available by other means including email, instant messenger and through online collaboration tools.
Most workplaces have regular events that are not very accommodating to remote employees. Holiday parties, employee recognition events, and many other celebrations may not be accessible to telecommuters who work far from the home office. While you don’t have to fly these workers in for every event, do come up with ways to include them. If there is a ceremony, see if it can be broadcast online. Have co-workers sign a holiday card and mail it to the remote worker. If your office participates in secret Santa exchanges, consider something that can be mailed to the employee and if their contribution can be delivered to the team.
It may take a little more coordination to have remote workers involved in these events, but it will help everyone feel like they are part of the team.
If you are looking for more ways to make managing remote workers simpler, or are looking for an employee for a telework position, contact Validity Solutions. Our industry expertise can help you create an environment that allows remote employees to thrive.