Business leaders and entrepreneurs already face so many obstacles when it comes to managing on-site employees. They have to deal with workplace conflicts, and have one-on-one meetings when it is clear that certain milestones or goals aren’t being met. It can also be difficult to deal with differences in personality, and situations where your business isn’t as productive as you hoped it would be.
It’s also difficult to manage remote employees, but there are some strategies you can use to make sure that your message is clear and that your employees understand what is expected of them. Here are some tips to help manage remote employees, no matter where they are working from.
Engage With Them Regularly
Remote workers can often feel like their work is lonely, and the fact that they aren’t physically interacting with co-workers might only exacerbate these feelings. You can manage remote employees best by remaining approachable. Your employees should understand that they can reach out to you at any time, but you should be proactive with them.
Does this mean that you must have some kind of one-on-one with them every day? Of course not. However, you might want to make a point of regularly engaging certain employees several times a week to make sure that they remain productive.
Show Them Appreciation
In an office, you might gather all of your employees around a birthday cake for a birthday. Even though this isn’t possible with your remote employees, you can still find ways to celebrate certain milestones. You might offer them a day off if that week was particularly productive, for example.
You might consider a video conference with your employees wishing their coworker a “happy birthday”, as well, or celebrate certain milestones with them in the manner you deem most appropriate. This can go a long way towards making workers feel included.
Small Talk Is Necessary
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, “small talk” is a part of life. Does this mean that gossiping about a coworker is the right move? Of course not. However, there should be a way for employees to share “small talk”, whether it involves the news, arts, TV, movies, music, or otherwise. It might be a small separate Slack channel, for example.
It goes without saying that your remote employees shouldn’t be conversing more than working. More than likely, they simply want the option to express themselves from time to time, since remote work can often feel a bit isolated. If you recognize that “small talk” is needed from time to time, you can manage your remote team a bit better. It might be a place where they can let off steam, goof off, or even speak about pop culture – but it can help them remain more productive in the long run.
Your company might employ workers from all over the world, but a one-on-one conversation might still be needed to make your points clear. You shouldn’t hesitate to speak to an employee candidly and honestly about how their work has been lately, and one-on-one meetings can happen anytime, thanks to companies like Zoom.
Managers should be taking advantage of this opportunity to learn more about your remote employees and how they feel about their work. One obvious suggestion would be to make sure that newer remote employees have a one-on-one conversation with you at least once a week.
An Annual Meeting
If your business is successful, you should go out of your way to make sure that your remote employees can meet at least once a year. It’s not just a free trip: it’s a way for employees to actually build personal bonds with one another. They can feel much more aligned with the company’s goals once they actually meet the people that they are working with, and an annual retreat can make them feel more valued.
It doesn’t need to be an exotic destination, either. While the location should be enjoyable, an annual meeting/retreat should be first and foremost about appreciating the fact that they work for a great company, and many personal conversations can be had every year if it is made a tradition.
It can be extremely difficult to manage remote teams. There will be times where your employees are frustrated because they work in a specific time zone, or feel left out because certain employees were part of a job that they weren’t. It isn’t always pretty to talk through the feelings of isolation and loneliness often associated with remote work.
However, it also allows for an incredible amount of autonomy and flexibility. Remote workers should understand that their role is essential to the company, and that their co-workers are capable people working towards the same goals. It might take some time for them to feel appreciated and engaged, but it’s worth it.