Effectively supervising remote employees has become a key management skill in the digital era. As many employers are discovering, the management techniques used for an in-house team can be quite different from those needed to motivate and manage workers scattered across the U.S.
To ensure that these valuable remote employees are sufficiently engaged, managers must pay close attention to how they communicate, inspire, and get them more closely involved in daily and strategic business operations. Read on for seven tips on how to achieve this goal.
There should be no difference between the way you treat remote workers and those you encounter in person every day. They are not disposable or easily replaced just because they are off-site. As Business.com notes, “Paying your remote workforce an adequate wage, equipping them with benefits to keep them healthy and seeing to their personal needs is just as essential as doing all of these things for a ‘traditional’ workforce.”
With the proper “care and feeding” of remote teams, you’ll quickly see the competitive edge they bring to your company.
Like your on-site team, remote employees need the right digital materials to do their jobs. These tools can range from mobile devices that work in sync with technology at the head office to apps that facilitate video conferencing.
You should have a fairly good idea of the specific technological resources a remote employee needs, but it’s also a good idea to ask these workers to put in requests for tools they know will assist them in meeting deadlines and maintaining consistent productivity.
In the past, employers often found communications to be a challenge when dealing with a remote team. With all the tools available now, this should no longer be a problem.
Video chats are often the most effective way to connect, though of course other tools such as text, chat and email are also useful. The key is staying in touch on a regular basis, addressing any problems or shortcomings as they arise and ensuring that every remote worker understands project deadlines and other expectations.
Ask your remote team members to “explain how they’d communicate with everyone involved as they work on a project.” A concrete plan for regular check-ins keeps everyone on the same page, regardless of their location.
Just as new on-site employees undergo orientation, remote workers should participate in an onboarding process. Forbes suggests taking these action steps:
Remote workers want to be an active part of your team, which means connecting and collaborating with employees in the workplace. There are plenty of ways to make this happen, such as setting up chats or Facebook groups where remote and on-site teams can hang out and share ideas, tips and more.
Other strategies to cement relationships include offering “a ‘point of contact’ colleague within the office to answer questions,” notes Flexjobs, as well as creating “formal mentoring opportunities with the remote worker in the role of a mentor or a learner.”
Just as when an on-site employee goes above and beyond (and is subsequently honored during an all-staff meeting), it’s important to single out praiseworthy contributions from remote workers.
These reward efforts will actively drive deeper engagement with your organization. They will also solidify the bond between on-site employees and those based elsewhere. Make sure everyone hears about the superb job your remote workers are doing.
Want to elevate a remote employee’s contributions to your company? Chances are, these workers might have some concrete ideas about promoting your company in their area or some other input that furthers your strategic goals. The key is to invite these employees to speak their minds honestly and clearly by engaging in one-on-one conversations, conducting email surveys and/or otherwise encouraging them to get more involved in the company’s growth.
According to Gallup, more than 40% of workers operate off-site or in some other remote capacity. As these numbers steadily increase, your employee management system should also evolve:
The more engaged your remote employees are, the more motivated and productive they should be. This not only results in potentially huge gains for your company and your customers, but it also creates an environment that’s welcoming and inclusive — even if these workers are scattered across the country.
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