Are you lucky enough to work for a company that allows employees to work remotely? There are many pros and cons that come with having employees work outside the office, and as someone with a leadership role in the company, you should know and understand the best ways to manage these employees. With the internet and advancements in technology, working remotely has become more popular than it was 10 years ago. More and more companies now have employees who telecommute sometimes. This means employees can work from home, on the road, or even overseas. Depending on where they are located, some employees have to commute for long periods of times - sometimes even hours - to get to their job site, but should they?
Obviously, there are some jobs such as retail, medical staff, and others that require the employees to be present at the job site, but what about the ones who don’t? For example, a graphic designer can work from anywhere, as long as they have access to a computer with the software they usually use. Sometimes, they don’t even need to have access to the internet, depending on the project they are working on. Salespeople, software developers, and event planners are also examples of people who do not need to be in an office to do their job. Remote and flexible work hours are quickly becoming a differentiator for attracting and retaining top talent, so if your company does not offer this, maybe it is time to reconsider because this is a great way to retain employees without spending more money. If you already manage remote employees or are considering doing so, keep in mind the following tips to help you manage them.
Communicate Your Expectations from the Beginning
Because remote workers are not in the office every day, it is important that you communicate with them clearly and frequently. The expectations for remote workers are a little different than those for normal employees, and it all depends on the company’s needs and the company culture. For example, you may need the employees to be present at the office during certain hours, like during company-wide meetings, but not for all meetings. If an employee cannot be present, suggest a video call. According to Forbes, only 7% of communication is content, the rest is actually seeing each other, even if it is not in person. Utilizing methods of communication other than email and phone calls is essential and keeps employees engaged. If your department uses a specific software to communicate such as Slack or Google Hangouts, make sure that all remote workers are included and encourage them to participate in the conversation.
If you decide to hire remote workers you should understand that soon, you may have employees who work in a different time zone than you. In order to manage these workers and keep communication frequent, you might need to make some sacrifices. One of the managers at KISSmetrics mentioned that in order to communicate with one of his remote employees who lives in Australia, he schedules video calls at 10 PM because that means it is 3 PM in Australia, which is a better time for the employee to speak. He doesn’t do this every day, but he tries to at least once a week. This shows that you are committed to your remote employees even if you don’t necessarily interact with them on a daily basis.
Help Them Feel Included
Dominion is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but we have a satellite office on the East side of the state, in Rochester Hills. Only three employees work from that office and sometimes it is hard to include them in all activities that take place at the office in Grand Rapids. Every Monday the Sales and Marketing Teams have a meeting in the morning, so we make a video call to include those on the East side, which they really appreciate. When we have company-wide meetings, our CEO encourages them to drive to Grand Rapids and reimburses them for their drive. Also, every time we get new swag, we make sure to send some their way. This helps them feel appreciated, connected to the team, and not forgotten by the main office.
There are many pros and cons of having remote workers, and knowing the best ways to manage them is essential. Make sure you always communicate with them, track their progress, have one-on-one meetings (video or in-person), include them in as many activities as possible, and, lastly, make sure you get together face-to-face at least once a year. This may be a little pricey at times, but the ROI is very high. It is a great opportunity to get to know your remote employees on a deeper level and strengthen the relationship.