Remote teams are all the rage these days thanks to its cost-effectiveness and other benefits. Some employ these teams because of strategy while others do it to cut down on costs. Whatever the reason, they are your employees and must be monitored the same way in-house employees are, using different methods. Here are a few simple tips to help you manage employees that are not in your sight.
- Create a balance between professional and casual. It is not pleasant to work for an immediate superior who is stiff and terse, and by creating a comfortable environment for your remote employees, you get to give them the encouragement you cannot give them in person. When you send them e-mails or messages, it does not always have to be work-related; you can easily ask how they are doing, the same way you let them know about next month’s deadlines.
- If you have employees from all over the world, make it a point to know what countries they are from. This will give you a better understanding of their culture and how they communicate, as well as the added consideration of knowing what time zone they are in. This will allow you to make allowances for certain events that are happening wherever they are, as well as avoid waking them up in the middle the night where they are just because it is mid-morning at your location.
- It will help to call remote employees regularly. While it may be much easier and more convenient to send them e-mails or instant messages, phone calls will make for faster conversations with better understanding. No matter where the employee is located, there is no excuse for you not to call them since there are so many alternatives, such as a VoIP phone service. It also removes the pressure video chats bring about since employees will not have to look polished when speaking with you.
- It would be of help to think that your employees are still in an office, albeit the virtual kind. Just because they are not located in the same building as you are does not mean that they are no longer part of the workspace. Make them believe that the places they are working from are extensions of your workspace so they get a sense of inclusion and accountability. If the people at the office are holding a party, let them know that they should celebrate as well and maybe you could even ask them for pictures as proof that they took it easy. Make them feel like they are part of the company. As Phil Montero on EvanCarmichael.com said:
“There are also a variety of practices managers can implement that assist remote employees to stay “connected” and still feel like part of the gang at the office. These include having regularly scheduled phone calls, including virtual team members in impromptu lunches and other social events, and routing more informal information, memos, and FYI items to them. “
While hiring remote employees stem from wanting to cut a few expenses, it would be a good investment to hop on a plane and visit them. This is rather expensive and will take up a considerable amount of time but will prove to be an asset for you and the company. It prevents your remote employees from feeling like outsiders and let them know that they are worth spending time and money over. It is still your team even if it is remote and it is your job to know them so you know how to work with them better.