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10 Ways to Effectively Manage Remote Workers

Remote workers are becoming more and more common nowadays, especially considering how much efficiency you get, while at the same time being cost-effective. According to a study by Deloitte, “Value is...

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Remote workers are becoming more and more common nowadays, especially considering how much efficiency you get, while at the same time being cost-effective.

According to a study by Deloitte, “Value is being achieved through the impact of innovation, ease of relationship management, and improved strategic flexibility, not just cost savings.” Furthermore, outsourcing is projected to grow in all functions that were surveyed, particularly in IT, Finance and HR. Hiring a remote team can work wonders for your business, but how do you manage a remote team? Here we will give you 10 ways to effectively manage your remote workers.

1. Set clear expectations from the very beginning

As the manager, you need to set and define the expectations from the very beginning, otherwise, things will break down immediately. This includes spelling out who is responsible for what and setting weekly, monthly, and yearly performance reviews, and defining which benchmarks must be reached for a stellar performance. Just like you would check in on employees working with you in the same building, check in on them regularly to see how they’re doing and whether or not they’re coping with the tasks.

2. Promote communication

The people working for you remotely are no different than the ones you work with side by side. Just because they’re in another city or country doesn’t mean that they’re Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island. You need to make them feel like they're an integral part of your team just like any other employee. Try to hold frequent and recurring team meetings while taking into account everybody’s schedules, differences in time zones, etc.

3. Encourage and spark interactions between employees

Continuing the topic of communication, you need remote employees to not only interact with you but with each other as well. Do you know those “cooler talk” conversations at the office? Take that idea and apply it to all of your remote employees. This can be accomplished by creating a public channel where people can freely post ideas, news, events, or anything else. This can be accomplished by using technologies like Slack, Skype, and Cisco Spark. Even though your remote team members may be dispersed all over the world, try to create as much of an intimate atmosphere as possible.

4. Unite employees around a common goal

You may have team members in New York, Tokyo, the Philippines, Australia, etc. Due to the distance, it may feel that each office location is a separate company, even though it’s not. When you have meetings with your team members, try to constantly remind them of what the overall goal is and what the company is trying to achieve. Make sure that it’s like a puzzle, each location is working on their specific piece of the puzzle and, in the end, we all come together to put the entire puzzle together. Try to find something that will unite all employees around one specific goal.

5. Visit on a regular schedule

This may not always be possible considering the distance, but if you can at least visit, in person, from the get-go this can be priceless. This gives people a sense of comfort. It builds trust and stability. It will also be a rewarding experience for you to see what it’s like to work from such a distance. Perhaps after this experience, you can make some necessary adjustments to fix some of the glitches you have with your remote team. This will also give you and your employees to get to know each other on a more personal level. Video technologies such as Hangouts will never replace face-to-face interaction. If at all possible, try to visit your team personally and regularly.

6. Provide feedback

If your employees are doing a great job, let them know! Compliment your employees as often as possible. Not only does this increase employee morale, but it also shows your employees that they are appreciated. This can be a simple thank you message or acknowledging somebody during a team meeting. Small things can make a big difference.

7. Recruit the right people

Working remotely requires a particular temperament and skillset. This means that you will have to adjust your recruiting strategy. First of all, you will need to look for qualities such as work ethic, reliability, organizational skills, and the ability to work independently. Working remotely is a skill that requires a lot of self-motivation and tech-savviness. Not everybody can keep themselves motivated and stay connected via communication and sharing tools that are available today. Try to hire people who have experience working in startups and pay particular attention to whether or not the candidate possesses the desired qualities mentioned above.

8. Never cancel a one-on-one

Your remote employees miss out on the things that go on in your office and one-on-one’s can make up for this. If you have to, reschedule, but do not cancel. Canceling these meetings can cause resentment. If you are a big believer in the benefit of one-on-one meetings, you’re in great company. The former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove, who grew Intel by 4,500% in market capitalization said “Ninety minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for two weeks, or for some eighty-plus hours.” Serial entrepreneur Michael Wolfe also swears by them. Do not miss out on this opportunity to increase the efficiency of your team members.

9. Use animated GIFs and emojis to convey emotions

Since most communication is non-verbal, it’s hard to convey what you mean exactly with words alone. After all, when you are communicating via chat, it’s hard to express emotions with words and punctuation alone. Or, your words may come across in a totally different context than what you originally intended. Not to worry, animated GIFs and emojis are to the rescue. You can use sites like giphy.com to find cool GIFs and attach them to your message. Your next “good job” message will be a lot more powerful.

10. Don’t forget about the goals and aspirations of your remote team

Since you don’t see your remote team as much as your in-house team, it’s easy to forget about their career goals. Discussing their career paths with them will avoid confusion and frustration. If you follow the advice of the previous step, to have one-on-one calls with your employees, this will allow for plenty of time to discuss this with them. Don’t fall into the trap of treating your remote employees as robot workers who help you get things done. They want to see career growth just like anyone else.

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