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.
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.
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.