I’ve written in the past about allowing employees to work remotely. It’s a beautiful thing where in the modern world of business, you can tap into the talents and skills of people oceans away. Because of this, hiring remote employees has become the new norm in business today.
Managing remote employees is a challenge, but it can be done well when you follow some simple rules.
The fact that your employee is based in another country is not an excuse for the two of you not to talk. Emailing back and forth can help, but there is enough room for human error in an email that this is not always the best way to develop a relationship. Emails can get misfiled, misread, and worst of all, misinterpreted. People rely heavily on non-verbal cues, and you just cannot convey those additional nuances through email alone. You need to see each other and talk. Forget about the distance. FaceTime, Skype, and other video conferencing apps make communicating across great distances a breeze. Regular video conferences with your remote employees are as efficient as actually being in the same conference room.
Keep in Touch
Make your remote employees feel that they are regular parts of the team. Get to know them on a personal level, and be aware of their circumstances. Put forth the extra effort to develop a relationship by acknowledging them on important occasions, such as their birthdays. If there is the opportunity, ask them to visit the main office to meet with you in person.
Encourage Collaboration and Teamwork
Use a document management system to allow all of the members on your remote team to have access to common documents and files. Again, try to stay away from the email chain. Sifting through emails is tiresome and time-consuming. Things like DropBox and Google Docs are very efficient ways to share documents across various teams. Encourage both remote and non-remote employees to contribute to a single project. This improves cohesion, cooperation, and collaboration throughout your business.
Track Their Work
Let your remote employees be flexible enough to work on their own schedule, but be sure to track them in a way that will allow you to monitor the hours they work. This is especially important if they are paid by the hour. Research various software applications that allow you to track their hours dependably.
Maintain Clear Expectations
You may give your remote employees the flexibility to determine their own hours, but you have to see to it that they finish what is expected of them. Set weekly or monthly goals with your employees, and establish a timeline for their tasks. Once a given timeframe is up, check their performances and make adjustments as needed.
Don’t fall into the trap of only talking with your remote employees when you need something. Make your employees feel valued and develop relationships with them as if they were stationed in the same office space as you. Treat them well while at the same time making it clear what you expect of them. When done right, you, too, can have an employee that is “happy as a pig in a puddle.”