As the number of people working remotely increases it is more important than ever to learn methods for effectively dealing with the unique challenges that managing remote workers presents. Remote workers are particularly susceptible to problems of isolation, connectivity, communication, engagement, and collaboration; which can drastically impact their well-being and productivity. Here are 5 strategies that managers of remote employees can use today to combat these problems.
1. Touch Base Often
Make sure you’re touching base with your employees at least weekly. Ideally, this should be done through video, which is the next-best thing to communicating in person. Check in with them, get updates, and see how they’re doing. At least once a month, discuss goals, productivity, and direction with each employee individually. This type of regular communication will keep your remote employees feeling connected and engaged.
2. Use Collaboration Apps
Use apps such as Slack or connect to help you and your direct deports keep in close contact with one another. These apps can be used to collaborate, communicate, and maintain close relationships through physical distance. Using gifs, images, and emojis can help make communication and collaboration online more fun, informal, and personal. Within these apps, you can also make channels and opportunities for spontaneous and independent interaction. This will help foster collaboration and innovation.
3. Give Virtual Tours
Giving a virtual tour of your workspace with your remote workers and vise-versa can help promote connection and engagement. Try to have fun with this exercise. If you are working in an office, walk around with your laptop or phone and give your remote workers a tour; introduce them to the team, take them to the cafeteria, show them your desk, and give them a sense of where everyone else works. Remote workers can do the same with you and their co-workers by giving a tour of their home-office, co-working space, their favorite cafe, or any place they often work from.
4. Ask Target Questions
When deciding whether or not to hire a remote employee or to better prepare an existing employee for remote work, ask them specific questions about their remote work situation. Talk to them about when they’re gonna work, how they’re gonna work, what distractions they might face, their motivations for wanting to work remotely, and what challenges they might face. Targeted questions will give you the information you need to make the right decision.
5. Give Them the Tools They Need
Essential in empowering your remote employees to do their best work is making sure they have the tools, training and resources they need. Working remotely presents a unique set of challenges. Take the time to regularly ask remote employees what problems they are encountering and what tools and resources you can provide to help them succeed. Close communication with your employees and a willingness to assist them is vital for success in any organization.
These 5 strategies are based on the insights of NY Times best-selling author, Chester Elton. On Methods, Chester has a large library of quick and actionable insights on team management where you can further explore these ideas and learn other strategies for how to better manage your team.