Managing Remote Workers Requires New Communication Strategies

by David Mizne, from 15Five.com

Remote workers have become a regular fixture of the business world. Whether someone works part of a day or week at home or full-time outside the office, the concept is no longer rare. Flexible scheduling has taken a premium spot among benefits that employees seek.

While the upside to remote work is higher work-life balance satisfaction, the downside can be employees that are concerned about their career path, worried they are out of the loop, and struggling for direction.

Managers and their remote staff must take an extra step to maintain quality communications. Without daily facetime or the natural everyday interactions that take place in an office, everyone must put an emphasis on contact in order to maintain a vibrant work relationship and continue delivering on objectives and key results.

The essential piece, of course, is technology. With ubiquitous wi-fi, higher internet speeds, and the proliferation of mobile apps, shared online platforms, and digital management software, remote work situations offer employees more ways than ever to keep in touch.

Remote Workers Need Tech Savvy Communication Solutions

Regular communication strengthens the work relationships between managers and remote employees. Sharing tools on a service like Google Drive or project management platforms like Trello or Slack can make collaboration go smoothly, regardless of whether a coworker is down the hall or across the country.

Here are three additional components that can make remote and distant work groups successful:

  1. Establish and Track Goals

Everyone has a to-do list, whether they keep a mental or paper list, or track them with a simple app. Moving a to-do list into a shared environment can help managers and coworkers understand what individual team members are working on and prioritizing. With higher visibility and accountability, people can easily check-in with each other, offer support or help, and coordinate their own tasks with others.

But, it doesn’t need to stop there: Keeping a running “done” list provides a visual motivation factor for employees. Tracking accomplishments inspires workers to be more productive as they take pride in what they have accomplished.

  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is at the core of successful employee engagement. For remote workers, communication is critical. Managers and staff should build a routine of asking questions and checking in with one other to maintain connection.

Employees in distant locations need to know they have someone to contact for support and guidance. For managers, keeping tabs on work progress helps identify potential issues and guide interactions that help resolve them in a positive manner.

Even when nothing pressing or problematic is going on, keeping up regular conversation between distant workers has value. It provides the social component of office work that remote work lacks, strengthens the relationship bonds between staff, and can create opportunities for new ideas to bubble up in casual conversations.

  1. Acknowledge, Manage, and Support

The key to managing remote work relationships well is recognizing how they provide value. Managers that respond to comments, even when questions are not asked, send a signal that they’re paying attention and are available. Recognizing accomplishments goes a long way in making sometimes isolated staff feel they are valued. Treating communications like conversations increases confidence in remote workers that they are a part of the greater goals of the company.

While offering the advantages of remote work, managers need to employ different strategies to motivate and include staff. Without having a support structure and solid communication in place, morale and engagement can fail, resulting in lack of productivity and morale. Developing communication strategies that assure everyone that they’re part of a team will make the remote component of work-life balance succeed for both the employee and the business.

 

15Five is a continuous performance management suite that allows managers to coach their employees in a way that could help unlock the potential of every member of the global workforce.

 

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