Managing remote employees is much more prevalent these days. In fact, regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 (GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com). You can find a lot of data, webinars, and articles circulating around the pros and cons of being a telecommuter and the impact for companies that provide telecommuting options. Achieving the right balance of engagement is a tall order, and there are personalities that are a solid fit for being home-based, while others are not. I personally feel that managing remote employees is one of the hardest parts of my job, and I am continually trying to find ways to enhance the level of connectedness. Here are just a few tips that may help if you are headed on the journey of managing remote employees.
1. Utilize Technology.
Skype video is a great tool to help give communications with your telecommuter a more personal feel. It gives you a chance to still get “face to face” as you interact with them. I like to connect in this manner once a week at a minimum. Instant messenger can help telecommuters feel more connected to their teammates as well. It is the equivalent of stopping by someone’s office to ask a question.
2. Be Intentional.
Consider the perspective of your telecommuters in everything you plan. How are you including them, and making them feel a part of the team? It is very easy for people to step into the “out of sight, out of mind” routine. If you have the team gathered on a conference call, are you asking questions and engaging the telecommuters that aren’t in the room with you? Christmas is right around the corner; if you have office parties lined up, what are you doing for your remote employees to give them something special if they can’t attend?
3. Manage Expectations.
In many ways, the telecommuter has added responsibility when it comes to communications. They need to make a special effort to engage with their teammates and establish/maintain solid relationships within the business. They also need to be more informative with their supervisor as to how they are spending their time. As a manager, it is important to talk openly about these things and establish a clear set of expectations. It is a best practice to outline all the details within a Telecommuting agreement, so both parties fully understand the Telecommuting guidelines and expectations.
Does anyone have any unique things they do to help remote employees feel included and valued as a team member? Check out this blog post about setting up a telecommuting plan.