Remote workers have become increasingly common. Although employees are thrilled, managers are on the fence because, unfortunately, many leaders are old-school and want to physically see an employee working. It’s a loss of control. However, the trend continues because besides being a money saver for a company, it increases retention, and expands the talent pool a company can dip into. How do you maintain a great culture and ensure productivity remains high when the vast majority of your people work at home or from a local Starbucks restaurant?
Here are four strategies to effectively manage remote workers:
- Communicate clearly, directly, and via the phone, so you can have a two-way conversation. Yes, you will also utilize email and instant messaging, but they leave room for misinterpretation. Nothing beats the telephone when it comes to crystal clear communication and the ability to correctly ‘read’ a person’s tone.
- Bring the team together on a consistent basis. Weekly staff meetings can be conducted via conference call. Then consider holding a monthly video chat with your team to review goals, progress, and enable people to ask questions. Senior leaders can be invited to participate, so employees get ‘face-time’ with higher ups. Also consider an annual face-to-face retreat toward the end of the year to set goals for next year and celebrate successes.
- Recognize, recognize, recognize. Celebrating successes bonds a team. Coordinate a ‘virtual celebration’ where rewards are sent to employees and opened on a video-conference call. You can also create an online ‘Virtual Wall of Fame’ where team members celebrate their successes and one another, by posting individual and team kudos and accomplishments.
- Get to know your team members. Employees will feel less isolated and alone if they think you know them and care about their well-being. Conduct a ‘Quarterly Conversation’ with each team member for 30 minutes that focuses on one question, such as, “What do you like most and least about your job?” On an employee’s first day, ask them to fill out a survey that asks questions such as, “What’s your favorite food,” and “What hobby do you most enjoy?” This will enable you to tailor recognition to each employee, which will make a powerful statement.
WHAT CAN I DO? Begin making a greater effort to interact with your remote workers. Whether you have one or 100, it’s not too late to shift your management style and execute on these strategies. Besides maintaining a great culture and ensuring productivity remains high, you may even increase employee engagement – priceless.