Leading a remote team starts with hiring the right people, says Kes Thygesen, co-founder and head of product at RolePoint, a company focused on employee referrals, internal talent mobility, and creating seamless ATS connectivity.
“New hires need to be okay without having the social environment of a traditional workplace, so stress that in job postings,” says Thygesen. “Start an employee referral program to make the most out of your current remote staff’s connections. They are your best tool for helping you grow your remote team because they know what it takes to succeed in a virtual role and can better identify talent who share their qualities.”
Communication is crucial when managing remote staff, so establish a schedule of communication between all office and remote teams, adds Thygesen.
“Management should focus on getting to know their remote employees on a personal level, so reserve some time for casual conversation before or after a meeting,” says Thygesen.
Greg Harris, President and CEO of Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day, agrees.
“Leading remote workers doesn’t mean there’s no way to have an open-door policy,” says Harris. “Keep an open line of communication through email, chat rooms, phone, video chat, and even online recognition software to help your remote workers know where they stand with performance and with reaching their goals.”
It’s also crucial for management to know if employees are engaged. It’s easy for employees who work remotely to feel disconnected from the perks of office engagement practices.
Create feedback surveys to gauge remote employees’ satisfaction and determine what they need from leaders to perform at their best and feel connected with their work.
This could range from unique ways to recognize their hard work to more effective ways to better their performance strategies, says Harris.
Don’t lose face-to-face interactions, says Jeff Blackey, senior vice president of marketing of Broadview Networks,
“With the right video conferencing solutions, this can be accomplished by using audio from any computer, mobile device or phone without sinking significant cost in travel,” says Blackey. “Companies managing remote employees must invest in HD-quality video solutions, as they simulate the experience and rapport of being in the same room as the on-site time. Companies will also discover that these solutions can be similarly applied to customer and vendor interactions and quickly become essential to those critical relationships as well.”
For example, offering company-wide group chat will allow team members to nimbly discuss issues and answer quick questions from multiple locations.
An efficient cloud-based call center will ensure that clients and customers can call a central office, have a high-quality experience and be connected directly with the person they’re looking for – even if that person is remote.
Businesses with remote employees stand to particularly benefit from the right cloud-based IP phone system, which offers features like mobile twinning, sending inbound calls to an employee’s mobile phone and desk phone simultaneously, and ensuring employees are available to customers anytime, anywhere.
Set short-term goals, with incentives, says Ty Tucker, CEO of REV, a performance management platform.
“Like most organizations, you probably have a dozen company projects that are in the works at any given time,” says Tucker. “However, many of these projects don’t have a clear-cut timeline to follow, which can make it extremely hard for remote workers to stay on track. Encourage remote employees by creating specific, short-term and actionable goals to keep these multifaceted projects moving forward.”
Remember to invest in your employees’ career growth even at a distance.
“When it comes to personal development, remote employees can often be overlooked by management since they don’t frequently interact face to face,” says Tucker.
Finally, make remote employees feel like they add equal value to the team by expressing gratitude and recognition for their work and performance.
“Just as you do in the office, celebrate your remote employee’s accomplishments publicly, which helps minimize their common feeling of being somewhat invisible,” says Thygesen. “Evaluate their job performance in the same way you evaluate your office workers. Use the same metrics and provide equal incentives for accomplishments.”