In this guest post for the Virtual Vocations blog, Pauline Farris—world traveler and translator—shares her tips for effectively managing remote workers who are geographically dispersed.
The Ultimate Guide to Effectively Managing Remote Workers
We live in a day and time where working in an office isn’t always possible. Whether you wish to recruit employees from different parts of the world or you simply don’t like the concept of common working space, you should know how to organize the people who work for you.
Offering remote working opportunities will help you expand your business to new markets both within your own country and overseas.
At first, you may feel like this will be difficult and you won’t be successful at effectively managing remote workers on your team. The good thing is there are plenty of tricks to help you oversee your remote workers. Here are some of the best tips to help you manage them effectively.
1.) Treat Your Remote Workers as You Do Your Local Ones
It’s important to not show favoritism toward your local employees. Your onsite employees will most likely get to see you at work on a daily basis, eat lunch with you, or come to your office for any questions or problems that may arise.
Your remote team members won’t have this access to you. This can be a problem when it comes to establishing good working relationships. It is important to be on strong terms with your remote team members and try your best to respond to them as soon as you can.
Keep in mind, you are responsible for providing remote workers with the necessary information for them do to their jobs correctly. Send them company emails like you would to any other worker and let them know you are available for them, exactly like you are for the rest of your team.
2.) Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Managing remote workers can be complicated if you aren’t clear about your expectations regarding their work. One of the most important things when working with remote workers is setting deadlines and letting them know how and when you want them to complete a task.
One way you can achieve this is by having an online shared calendar, like Google Calendar, where you post updates about deadlines, new projects, and goals for each active project in your pipeline.
In general, you will come to find that the more prepared and informed your remote workers are, the more productive they will be.
It might not be easy for you to make it work in the beginning, but as you continue working together you will achieve a pace that works for both of you.
The more effort you put into setting clear expectations and goals, the easier your employees’ workflows will be and the more efficiently you will manage those workflows. You will know exactly what you expect from them and they will know what they have to do in order to reach the goals you set for them.
3.) Maintain Regular Contact with Your Remote Team Members
As mentioned above, remote workers don’t have in-person, direct access to simply walk into your office and ask for help or advice when they need it.
When establishing relationships with new remote workers, take time to coach them about the company’s values, culture, working methods, and their own responsibilities. If every other local employee in the company receives initial coaching or training when they begin work, so should your remote workers.
Regular contact and open lines of communication can be established by scheduling meetings with remote workers. This will help you more effectively track performances and bring you closer to your employees by establishing strong working relationships with them. On top of that, it will also motivate them to work harder and be more focused.
When working remotely, sometimes it can be difficult to find self-motivation, especially considering you don’t have to present your work to anyone face-to-face. Maintaining regular contact with remote team members through initial and ongoing coaching and establishing a consistent meetings schedule will help alleviate this remote management hiccup.
4.) Help Remote Workers Feel Included
Last but not least, it is important to always ensure remote workers feel included. As a remote manager, you can promote inclusion by inviting remote workers to virtually attend team meetings when appropriate. If meetings are optional, still extend the invitation. This will strengthen bonds and inspire positive company culture.
You can also pair local workers with remote workers to collaborate on a project. This will not only help bring your workers closer together but also make them all feel responsible for working hard and producing a good outcome to benefit the team as a whole.
Whether you decide to host a company party, team meeting, or working lunch a couple times a month, you should always have virtual conferencing software up and running in order to integrate remote workers into the occasion.
Incorporating remote workers into onsite company events will help virtual team members feel comfortable around you and much more likely to reach out for your managerial assistance or expertise when they need it.
Working with Remote Employees Shouldn’t Feel Impossible
As with anything else new or unfamiliar, working with remote employees won’t be seamless in the beginning. There are learning curves for planning in advance, giving clear instructions, finding the time to communicate with them, and making remote workers feel welcome in the company.
However, the benefits of utilizing remote workers outweigh potential challenges. You will have many more opportunities to expand your business and you will come across hard-working people who will be great assets to your company. Remember, the more effort you put into making everyone feel welcome the easier it will be to effectively manage remote workers.
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/gradyreese
About the Author
Pauline, who speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian, works as an interpreter for TheWordPoint. She traveled the world to immerse herself in new cultures and learn languages. She is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.
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