Managing employees at an office is difficult. Managing a virtual office with employees working all over the country and/or world? That sounds nearly impossible. Yet with technological advancements, the trend of hiring full-time remote workers grows exponentially.
Choose your mediums of communication carefully. Mark Murphy, a contributor of Forbes, points out that “one of the biggest challenges in managing remote teams . . . is . . . addressing the psychological distance.” You may lengthen or shorten that psychological distance through your chosen form of communication.
Your mind may jump to email as the solution, but email is not the answer. It doesn’t promote a sense of community. Instead of making your employees feel increasingly isolated with a heavy reliance on email, create a personal presence with phone calls and video conferences.
Vilja Johnson, an experienced remote worker and manager of remote workers, also recommends chat tools. In our interview, she explained how chat tools are “her best friend” as remote worker and manager because “chat feels much less formal than email, so it was the easiest way to connect with people in the office on a human level.”
Managers need to establish a block of work time when all employees are available. This gets tricky with employees working in different time zones, but designate at least an hour when everyone’s schedules overlaps.
During the All Hands on Deck hour you can hold video conferences for collaborative brainstorms, department meetings, and formal announcements. Communicate important deadlines and expectations to all of your remote employees in real time! Even if it is just for an hour, this hour will be your saving grace.
Your physical environment affects company culture. Employee satisfaction with sun-filled offices, subsidized lunches at the cafeteria, fancy mahogany desks, and witty co-workers sitting next door, helps build a positive company culture that keeps employees happy, satisfied, and loyal.
But managers over remote workers cannot build this kind of physical office experience for their employees. So this means that managers must work extra hard to build a positive company culture for remote employees. If you don’t, you will experience a high turnover rate among your remote employees.
Here’s a list of ways to promote company culture with remote employees.
Every week provide your remote employees with the goings-on of the office headquarters. The information can range from letting remote workers know about a sick coworker, a funny incident, something an executive mentioned passing by your desk, or information given in a meeting that adds context to a team project.
Provide opportunities for remote workers to interact face-to-face. This is important! Offer to fly your remote employees out for office parties, company retreats, and/or annual office visits. Yes, you need to pay for remote workers to visit at least once a year.
Lighthouse blog recommends developing pro-brand experiences by mailing remote workers “swag for [the employee] and their whole family.”
Finally, Vilja Johnson recommends building loyalty during manager one-on-one meetings. She instructs managers to discuss the employee’s “growth within the company . . . on a regular basis. . . . . Ask them about their career plans, and follow up regularly on specific goals. Don’t ignore the difficulties that remote work may pose to their career development—be candid.”
To effectively lead a remote workforce, you must have an appropriate infrastructure. Because your communication depends on the reliability and capabilities of your online chat tools, business phones, and video conferences, you must offer top-notch technology. It’s just a given.
Hiring remote employees is exciting option for businesses and employees, so embrace the excellent resources offered! With the right technology, you can make your company remote employees compatible. Just remember the importance of using more personable communication methods, establish a core work hour, promote company culture, and use top-notch technology offered by companies like Jive Communications.
Check out the 4 Reasons Remote Workers Will Want Jive Mobile