5. Ensure meetings are inclusive
Sometimes it can be difficult during meetings to include people who aren’t physically in the room.
But consider this – if someone should be in a meeting and they worked in your office, would you go get them to join the meeting? The same consideration should be given to remote employees. If their participation in a meeting is important, include them. It’s as simple as that.
Also, it’s vital that everyone on the team adjusts to someone on videoconference or calling in remotely. If you want remote employees to be fully contributing to the team, they need to be included in the right meetings and engaged with meeting participants.
6. Bring them in for face time
As mentioned in the communication section above, you need to have regular face-to-face meetings as part of effectively managing remote workers. This circles back to the question of whether or not workplace flexibility is right for your company.
You need to have a budget to fly in remote workers so they can get face time with the team and their manager. Moreover, the manager should proactively seek out these in-person opportunities.
Many companies opt to do this around holiday parties or other corporate-wide events to ensure they include remote employees. In doing so, the team can schedule meetings in the days before and after the event, making it a double win.
7. Provide extra feedback
Don’t keep remote employees guessing if they’re hitting the mark. They need regular feedback on both their work performance and, in general, how they are meeting expectations.
With remote employees, it’s more difficult for managers to give bits of feedback along the way as they might with in-office employees. Therefore, managers shouldn’t wait for formal performance reviews or completion of big projects to give their input on remote workers’ performance. Sure, you can fire off a quick “good job” email, but it doesn’t have the same impact as hearing praise in person and seeing the nonverbal communication from the manager.
While you can insert a smiley enjoy, you just can’t replicate a pat on the back or a look of gratitude and pride.
The bottom line? When it comes to remote workers best practices, you need to be vigilantly intentional about not just the amount of feedback you provide but also the way you deliver it.
When you use technology as a way to give feedback, for instance, opt for one-on-one video calls, which allow you to convey more context and emotion.
8. Make them a part of the team
No one wants to feel like an outsider in the workplace. This is especially true for mixed teams where some work together and others remotely. It can be too easy for someone to be relegated to out-of-sight, out-of-mind stature.
While this can be difficult to do, the manager needs to look for ways to make sure remote workers aren’t excluded from the group. For example, plan virtual meetings, schedule video chats, and pair up in-office and remote workers for mini-partnerships.
9. Don’t forget about training and career development
One of the challenges of managing a remote workforce is that working from home can be viewed as a perk above-and-beyond what “regular” employees might get.
If that’s the mentality, then some managers might shy away from giving additional rewards on top of the work-from-home perk. But that’s short-sighted. Instead, managers should think of (and treat) remote employees just like they do all other employees.
Managers need to not only understand their remote workers’ need to grow their careers and increase their skill levels but provide opportunities to do so.
10. Have a plan for conflict resolution
Conflict is going to happen, plain and simple. But when you can’t just sit down with someone and talk it out, that has the potential to cause frustration and discord.
The solution? Go into it with a plan in place to handle conflict, both between the manager and employee and between employees themselves. Remember, not everyone is suited for remote work, and some team members may be less receptive to working with someone virtually.
Be aware of this pitfall and deal with it quickly so it doesn’t grow into a deeper problem.
While managing remote employees has its pros and cons, it’s a growing trend that your business might be ready to embrace. By following best practices for managing remote teams, including developing a clear work-from-home policy, you can cultivate a cohesive, responsive, productive workforce no matter where employees get the job done.