What is a remote employee?
A remote employee is a term usually used for someone who works from home. Whilst this is true, there are various jobs such as salespeople, engineers or lorry drivers who also fall under the category of remote employee.
They’re remote in the sense that they technically don’t work from home but they’re not members of staff who you could easily organise a face-to-face meeting within the office.
This type of telecommuting or cloud-based employment goes beyond a staff member being a few hundred miles from their employer’s office and can often be international, with remote team members based in different countries.
Due to technological advances, the world is a much smaller place and having staff in your team who you may never meet in person was a natural evolution that was always going to happen.
One recent report has found that 72% of office workers in the UK believe that traditional office culture is no longer relevant in modern business. 62% of workers in that same survey spend at least one working day away from the office. So what is needed to manage remote staff?
1. Small talk
As a manager in a traditional office environment, having familiar working relationships with staff is very valuable. Seeing as you don’t have 40 hours a week in the same workplace as the remote employee, it’s hard to develop an affiliation.
Time is a priceless asset in management, but you shouldn’t feel guilty about spending time talking about things outside of the workplace – where they’re going on holiday, how they’re spending their weekend, etc. Separating professional conversation and relationship building during their weekly, fortnightly or monthly one-to-one meetings will benefit you in the long term.
A reoccurring theme in these tips is that it is very easy for remote staff to feel distant from the rest of the team. The sense of distance can very quickly evolve into a lack of engagement.
Employee engagement is a key element in a successful business. Allow remote staff to give their opinions and input on what is going on in the workplace. You don’t have to agree to their ideas but if you sincerely listen to their thoughts and give them the platform to participate, employees are more likely to respect and gravitate to you as a leader.
3. Video call
They say 93% of communication is non-verbal, so why would your only contact with your employee be via phone call or email? Find the time to make some of your meetings happen via video call. This is another simple, yet subtle change in your HR toolkit which will make all the difference when building a relationship with your remote staff.
4. Set targets
Just as distance makes it difficult to develop a relationship, it can also become difficult to stay focused on what the common goal is. As a remote worker,r it can be very easy for you to fall out of sight and out of mind. The same can be said for your work.
Make sure you are in regular contact with the remote staff and updating them on the common goal. When you give (realistic) targets and goals frequently your staff will be kept on their toes and more motivated.
5. Try to meet as often as you can
Invite your remote employees to any company events or training days. If you are having an event, is it possible to move it closer towards them? Could you pay for their travel expenses to attend an event near to you? Obviously, if they are an international member of staff, this may be quite tricky to do.
Not only is it beneficial for the member of staff to get to meet their colleagues face-to-face but it is also beneficial for the rest of the team. Establishing friendships and good working relationships is a long term investment that will always pay off.
Our HR Software can help remote staff feel more connected to their team with social features from personal profiles to recognition and awards – book a demo today to find out more.