If you haven’t managed remote workers yet, chances are good that you will at some point soon. Seventy-five percent of managers today above front line supervisors have at least one remote team member.
Many of the elements necessary for effective leadership are also critical when leading remote workers. But the nature of remote working can create challenges for both you and your team members. Leaders often worry about the productivity of remote team members and struggle to keep them integrated with the rest of the team.
Here are 4 best practices for leading remote team members.
Set clear expectations. Remote workers should have office hours like anyone else. You need to determine when you expect them to be available online and by phone, and then communicate that to the rest of your team. They need measurable goals just like anyone else who works in your office so you can measure their productivity. If there are certain days or times when you need them to be physically in the office for meetings of other events, hold them accountable to meeting those expectations.
Leverage technology. The technology available today makes working remotely effective and possible. You may have to push some people out of their comfort zone, but video conferencing is one of the best ways to keep your team connected and invested in each other. It’s too easy on a regular call for the remote worker to be forgotten or for them to multi-task since they’re out of sight.
Keep your meetings. When people at work want some of your time, they probably just walk into your office and get it. For remote workers, it can be challenging to feel like they have the same kind of access to you. Make sure you carve out time to connect with them on a regular basis, and then keep those scheduled meetings. Sometimes it feels easier to reschedule phone calls than meetings in the office, but try not to do it too often with your remote workers. Too many missed calls and they will begin to feel neglected.
Include them in the fun. Many remote workers feel left out of the fun activities that happen in the office. If they’re close enough to participate, encourage them to do so. It’s essential to build and maintain their connection to the rest of the team. If geographically it’s not possible, find creative ways to include them. If you’re springing for food for a lunch meeting for the group in the office, send your remote workers gift cards so they can join in the fun. It takes a little planning but it’s well worth the effort.
Remote working relationships, when handled correctly, can be a win-win for both the company and the team member. Don’t be afraid to try them!