Long gone are the days when all the members of a specific department within a company could be found together on the same floor or corner of the office. The rise of communications technologies like VoIP, video conferencing, screen sharing and instant messaging has allowed enterprises to seek out and integrate the best candidates for any given position regardless of their location.
The number of remote workers is on the rise and this trend is showing no signs of slowing down. There are significant benefits to hiring and working with candidates regardless of where they are located, but there are also challenges. As such, managers have to adapt their style in order to keep this new breed of worker as integrated, motivated and challenged as possible.
Here at CounterPath, we experience this on a daily basis. With offices in Vancouver, Ottawa, Victoria, Chicago and Boston, in addition to team members working in Europe, our leaders have learned to embrace the benefits, and challenges, of managing remote workers. So, with this in mind, we present you with our top five tips to manage remote workers.
Focus on What Matters
When you have someone on your team who is not physically in the same space as you, a shift in priorities must occur in order to fairly measure their success. Focusing on goals, deliverables and quality of work must become paramount when assessing a remote worker’s performance and productivity.
Be Constantly Virtually Present
The fact that someone is not there physically does not mean that they cannot have constant communication with their manager. Checking in often is a great way to show support and encourage accountability. Video calling or conferencing is an effective and easy way to add a personal touch to the communications. After all, the majority of human communication remains non-verbal so this can help avoid future miscommunications.
Travelling is cost prohibitive; however, making the effort to bring everyone together at least once a year can go a long way towards galvanizing your team, increasing the sense of belonging and improving morale among remote workers. The company culture can greatly benefit from these gatherings as the rapport built over face to face gatherings can be hard to replicate.
Pick Them Right
Successfully managing remote workers starts with selecting the right candidates for the job. In addition to having the right qualifications, remote workers need a special set of skills to succeed. Good communicators, self motivators and independent professionals will have a better shot at thriving when working remotely.
Mind the Time Difference
Working with a team across different time zones can be challenging. Especially when finding times to meet. Compromise can be helpful to show fairness and express solidarity with those far away. An early or late call here or there never killed anyone, right? The same goes when managing deadlines. Always keep in mind the time when asking for short turnaround tasks. Maybe you are asking towards the end of someone’s day or your end of the day is very late for someone else.
Creating an empowering, fair and fostering work environment for remote workers can be a challenging task. However, if the right balance is achieved, the benefits can make your organization considerably more successful.