Employees at a distance is a trend that continues to grow year after year. According to a Gallup Survey of 2017, as reported in the New York Times, 43% of employees worked at least part of the time remotely.
For some bosses, the idea of a remote computer evokes images of careless employees: watching Netflix, surfing on Facebook and taking an occasional break to check their work email. While the same Gallup Survey shows that this is an unfounded perception – most remote workers reported a greater commitment than their counterparts in the office – it can still be a challenge for managers to know what is the best way to support your team from afar
We will analyze some of the best management tips to keep your remote workers engaged, happy and productive.
#1. Create a virtual space for meetings
If you are managing a team that spans across the country or the world, it can be easy to overlook the simple fact that you are still a team. You will want to create a sense of camaraderie and trust among the group, and the best way to do that is to create a virtual meeting place. It does not have to be anything elegant or formal. Whether it’s a small business with a small budget, a Facebook group or Slack channel, where people can share important business ideas or the latest silly cat video to help the team spend a long week of work, it offers them all an online place to congregate, meet and stay in touch.
If your company has the means to buy a solution designed specifically for remote computers, you can consider a platform like Sococo, which recreates the traditional configuration of the office in the virtual world and allows your team to communicate with each other easily.
#2. Set clear expectations
As a manager, it is essential that you have clear expectations for any team, virtual or otherwise, but it is particularly important when managing people remotely.
Be sure to meet regularly with employees one-on-one (either virtually or in person). Work with them to create an outline for your week, month and year, and set clear and metric goals to measure your success. Then, establish a schedule to review with that employee and a means to do so. Maybe that can be through an email at the end of each week in which your employee provides an overview of what they accomplished and what they will be addressing next week. Maybe it’s a bi-weekly Skype session.
Regardless of the expectations you set for your remote employees, make sure they are clear and consistent with all team members. This is especially important if you have some employees who work remotely and others who do not; all must be evaluated in the same rubric.
#3. Use video Communication
Emails and the written word are fine, but sometimes there is no substitute for seeing someone’s face. Vocal tone, inflection, facial expressions, and body language are critical aspects of communication, and if you only interact with someone via email or chat, you are missing important information.
While someone may sound good in your weekly emails, if you ask about a project through a video call and notice that the person is hesitant or their body language changes, you may discover a problem that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Your options for video chat platforms are numerous, from Facetime to Skype and GoTo Meeting, so there is no reason why you and your virtual team can not easily connect by video.
#4. Acknowledge the achievements
When workers are not in a commonplace, it can be easy for them to feel forgotten or excluded. But the contributions of remote workers to a team are as important as those of those who share the same building, so you should look for ways to celebrate and highlight your achievements.
Celebrating the success of an employee does not have to be a big thing. Sending a virtual gift card to a remote worker to Starbucks or Amazon can do a lot to boost morale and make them feel seen and appreciated. Quarterly email communication for the team that highlights individual successes in recent months will give remote employees the recognition of their colleagues they need and deserve.
#5. Meet with them in person
If possible, it is a great idea to meet the team in person on a regular basis. “Regular” does not have to mean every month; if it is only possible to have a meeting in person of the team once a year, that’s fine. The important thing is the consistency of these meetings; Do not promise annual meetings if you wait a year and a half for the second meeting.
Meeting in person, participating in team building exercises and establishing a clear vision for the group can help them stay on course while working throughout the year in their individual corners of the world.
Managing a remote computer may seem like a daunting task, but it does not have to be that way. In fact, many of the same managerial principles apply to remote teams as well as to those who share the building. Clear communication, the establishment of a sense of trust and the establishment of objectives are fundamental for the management of any team, regardless of whether they are near or far.