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Long Distance Relationships: How To Manage Remote Workers

Modern business is no longer conducted in one office during set hours. The mobility and agility that remote workers provide help to keep bottom line costs in check. However, the vital aspect of building and maintaining a close-knit team can often be lost with everyone working in different locations all the time. As with any long distance romantic relationship, it is not impossible, it just requires a different way of approaching the relationship.

Remote workers are a valuable asset to any company that is growing quickly. Investing a little more thought into how you conduct the relationship is worth it. Here are some tips for managing remote workers in your company…

Mix it up

Ensure you are not just using email over the course of your working relationship. Arrange to talk via video call/phone call as regularly as you feel is appropriate. Inviting the remote worker into group video chats where they are exposed to the hustle and bustle and group dynamics of the office helps them feel not quite so, well, remote.

Using social intranets and online project boards like Trello allow you:

  • to keep up to date on each other’s status and progress
  • interact and share ideas instantly and create a collaborative virtual environment
  • streamline your operations altogether with shared calendars and document storage.

Get emoji-nal

It is very important to connect emotionally with colleagues. While emojis in business communication are often said to be less than professional, times are changing. Emoji can now claim to be the world’s fastest growing language (yep) and undeniably makes up a huge part of our online interaction.

If your communication with a colleague is predominantly online, it can be difficult to convey tone, humour and other emotions that are essential to meaningful conversation. These emotions help establish the necessary rapport and connection for a working relationship. In this case, emojis are not only a means of injecting some informality, they are essential to getting those subtle messages across. Just don’t overdo it 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙁

Let go and trust each other

You need to maintain a good emotional relationship with remote workers because the central factor that ensures remote work works is trust. While you might be tempted to continually check in on a remote worker, it is not the same as passing someone’s desk and casually enquiring as to how things are going.

Too many messages and phone calls can be perceived as chasing from a distance and may put unnecessary strain on the relationship. As long as the worker has access to all the documents, schedules and information required to do the job, they should be trusted to get on with the task in hand and to communicate any problems or delays as they arise.

Be flexible

Remote workers tend to be managing their schedules differently. The boundaries between work and home life are often blended, so it is important to remember that and not to expect them to work to typical office hours. Performance should be measured, not presence. Allow them to work within their own productivity patterns. Providing a regular steady workload rather than bursts of pressure will allow home workers to plan more effectively.

Remote workers are almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week and are 20% more productive when they get given creative projects remotely.

Inc Magazine

Show appreciation

At the end of a busy period, it’s easy to forget to extend gratitude to remote workers not present in the office, even though it is very much felt. The worker will likely understand this but it does pay to take the time to drop them a line to congratulate or thank them.

Set short and long term goals

Remote workers aren’t just there on a task to task basis; they want to grow and develop with the company and should be kept abreast of all opportunities to do so if they are performing well. Goals are not just a motivator but a means of communicating company culture. Formal long and short-term goals will ensure a sense of purpose and will solidify the business’s values and what you are aiming to do together.

Arrange annual get-togethers

Summer and Christmas are good times to get everyone together socially. Of course, if workers are in different countries it is not always practical for everyone to attend, but it is important to extend the invite, all the same, to recognise that they are still very much part of the team, both professionally and socially.


Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland. Follow her on Twitter @Kayleigh_Ziolo

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