Three Tips on Managing Remote Employees

Debra WheatmanBy: Debra Wheatman

Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is president of Careers Done Write, a premier career-services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries. Debra may be contacted directly at debra@careersdonewrite.com. Visit her site at: careersdonewrite.com. Follow Debra on Twitter 

The modern information worker is increasingly mobile, detached, and independent, and for many companies this reality can be both blessing and burden. With the need to provide physical space to house employees for at least 40 hours a week diminishing, companies can minimize real estate expenses and allocate more capital to more income-generating endeavors. On the flip side, managers responsible for running teams with more and more members working from home can find this new reality to be a significant challenge. Not many workers like to be micromanaged, but to ensure the profitability and sustainability of certain businesses, close, intimate interactions are necessary. Below are three tips on how to effectively manage employees who frequently work from home or the road.

  1. Insist on at least one face-to-face meeting per month. Or even better, per week. Facetime is still very important to ensuring that your employees remain connected to what you, as a manager, need them to be focused on. Physically being in the presence of your remote employee allows you read body language signals that you may not pick up from phone conversations alone or Skype videoconference meetings. For the sake of the relationship you need to have with your employees, follow through on holding at least one face-to-face meeting to maintain that human connection.
  2. Provide your employees with the best connectivity. Invest in the most up-to-date software and technologies that will allow your employees the easiest access to your company’s networks. Ensure that your phone system is robust enough to have easily programmable and reachable access numbers WORLDWIDE so that your employees can reach key stakeholders with the push of a button. Technology should be your employees’ ally, and not their enemy. Nothing is worse for the remote employee than having to decipher how to call or connect to your company with hours-long help from a tech sitting somewhere in a faraway call center.
  3. Establish clear, quantifiable, or measurable objectives. The vast majority of workers react positively to clear goals and well-defined tasks so that they can know, predict, or forecast where they stand in relation to what the company is trying to achieve. Remote employees who are unproductive may not be so simply from being “lazy” – it might be an issue of poor strategic planning by management. Eliminate that risk by following a disciplined annual planning process that can apply to both sales-oriented and administrative roles that may be executed from outside your physical building. Consider establishing benchmarks so you can measure performance.

Remote employees will only continue to be more prevalent as companies embrace technology to meet the needs of younger workers used to the mobility and freedom a smartphone and internet connection can deliver. Instead of demanding perfect attendance and constant facetime, adapt to the change and be proactive about setting the right rules to maximize productivity. This is also a great way for the company to reduce overhead and operate in a more efficient manner.

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