If you’re not already working with a remote team member, chances are you will at some point in the near future. The number of telecommuting workers has increased 115% in a decade, and it’s projected to keep increasing. If you want to broaden your talent pool, decrease overhead, or give your employees the freedom to work where they choose, then knowing how to manage remote team members is a valuable skill to have.
Here we discuss a few critical points that help managers and business owners build more confidence working with remote team members:
Hire the right personality type for remote work
The first essential ingredient to working successfully with remote team members is making sure the people you hire are cut out for working independently. Once you assemble the right team, you’ve won half the battle. Look for candidates who have proven to be self-motivated, reliable, and know how to take initiative. Hire someone you know you can trust who has great communication skills.
Keep the communication flowing
Consistent communication is the glue that holds remote teams together. Depending on the job, daily check-ins may not be required, but letting too much time go between your phone calls, Skype chats, or video conferences, and your process can start to feel disjointed. Even the most independent of remote workers need to feel connected, and not like they’re out there “floating around.”
You’ll also want the quality of your communication with team members to be high, which takes effort just like any other working relationship. Honest and open communication, where team members are transparent about meeting deadlines, progress on tasks, or asking for help when needed will rely on quality conversations that build trust.
Stay active/present on your group communication platforms, but also connect with your individual team members in one-on-one communication. Take time to ask non-work related questions that will strengthen your relationship. Tough conversations or anything that could be interpreted poorly should be handled over the phone, where you’re less likely to misinterpret each other.
Develop a solid onboarding process
The ideal situation is to start employees in the office, but for those hiring in different cities or countries, training is likely to be done remotely as well. A sound onboarding process will help set your new hire up for success by providing a strong foundation including the tools or contacts they need.
Some onboarding tips for remote teams:
- Organize your training process. Break it down into segments so you have a way of tracking progress and checking boxes. Example would be items to cover in the first week, such as introductions to team members, paperwork, account setup, etc.
- Create a training manual or library to reference. It can include important resources, protocols, and task descriptions. Store your training manual and other materials, such as self-help articles and online training tools somewhere easily accessed as needed.
- Create training videos. You can free up a lot of your time in the future by creating training videos for the tools or procedures you use.
Give them access to coworking spaces
Access to a coworking space will not only make your remote worker happier, but it’s far better from a business perspective. According to Deskmag’s annual Global Coworking Survey, they found that of the individuals in coworking spaces:
- 64 percent claim they are better able to meet deadlines
- 68 percent said they have better focus
- 71 percent reported an increase in creativity
And according to Harvard Business Review, people who use coworking spaces found their work more meaningful and felt more in control of their job. Instead of feeling isolated, they gained a sense of community with other professionals.
Environment has a major influence on one’s ability to work effectively, and with remote team members you never really know what their working conditioners are like. With coworking spaces, you can give remote workers a space that will help motivate, focus, and build confidence, while ensuring they have reliable access to all necessary office tools.
Set realistic expectations
Setting expectations goes both ways in keeping remote employees from burning out or underperforming. For instance, as an employer, you shouldn’t expect a remote employee to be available around the clock whenever something pops up. On the other hand, you may have an employee who thinks it’s ok to go long periods of time without responding to messages simply because they’re remote.
Though remote working is rapidly growing, good remote working habits are still being established. You can get off to a good start by establishing expectations at the onset, and keep them realistic on both sides.
Telecommuting can be an exciting opportunity with numerous benefits for both employers and employees. As the remote workforce grows, more businesses are witnessing the significant productivity and work-life advantages that coworking spaces offer remote team members. They provide a reliable foundation, as well as support and resources they need to thrive.
By using these tips and gaining confidence working with remote workers, you can expand your business to places that before seemed out-of-reach.