The key to successfully collaborating with remote employees is effective communication. As technology has advanced, and businesses have become more global, the number of employees working remotely has increased dramatically.
Whether based in small satellite offices or out of homes halfway around the world, there are a unique set of challenges that arise when co-workers are not interacting in-person on a regular basis. These four tips help address some of those obstacles.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Invest in technology that will keep remote employees connected with their managers and peers. With all the amazing tools out there, no one needs to feel like they are on an island.
One of the best tools is Google Chromebox for Meetings. For companies that use Google Apps for Work, this tool makes video conferencing seamless and accessible—all it requires is creating a calendar invite. Another highly effective tool is Slack, a messaging app that provides a way to instantly communicate with anyone at your company. In addition to the one-on-one chat function, you can create “channels” where multiple team members can communicate.
Create Opportunities to Spend Time in Person
Whether once a year or once a month, remote employees need to have some in-person interaction with the rest of their team and manager. Although video conferencing helps bridge that gap, nothing can replace sitting in a room and talking to someone.
The most important time for this face-to-face interaction is at the beginning of a remote employee’s tenure so that he or she can put faces to names, build relationships, and learn about the company culture. After the initial onboarding, it is critical remote employees continue meeting in-person with their peers and managers so both parties can touch base on priorities and bigger picture goals.
Schedule Regular Meetings and Communication
By not seeing your co-workers everyday, it is easy to feel like you are on an island. One way to combat that feeling is to have regular meetings scheduled so remote employees feel in the loop and know what is happening on the ground and what they should be accomplishing.
If scheduling frequent meetings is not an option, it helps for remote employees to have a formal plan around communication. One example of this is a daily morning email sent from a manager that communicates goals, followed by an email from the employee at the end of the day summarizing what was accomplished. By doing this, both parties have a better understanding of priorities and how projects are progressing.
Hire the Right Person for the Job
Hiring the right talent can be the most challenging part of building a business. When hiring employees that will be working remotely, there are some additional criteria to think about other than if they are qualified for the job or a cultural fit.
Related: 6 Ways to Avoid a Bad Hire
Unlike someone who is in the office daily, this employee needs to be more comfortable with ambiguity, working independently, taking initiative, and being an effective communicator. Employees that need a lot of direction, are ineffective communicators, or uncomfortable with uncertainty are not the best candidates for the job. On the flip side, employees not receiving instant feedback need to know when to ask questions and not be afraid to reach out when something is unclear.
What tools or methods do you use when working with remote employees?
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