TIP TUESDAY: Top 15 Tips To Effectively Manage Remote Employees

Excerpted from a post by the Forbes Coaches Council, top business and career coaches who offer firsthand insights on leadership development & careers. Here, 15 members of the council offer their top tips for companies to both embrace and better manage a remote workforce:

1. Set Clear Expectations

Everyone has a different idea of what doing something “quickly” or “well” means. Whether showing examples of what you expect to be done, calendar sharing, etc., make sure you have clear expectations from those you work with online. The more prepared they are, the better they can serve. – Ilean Harris, Ilean Harris

2. Treat Remote As Local

Treat your remote people like they are local and treat your local people like they are remote. Give remote people as much access to you as possible. Remember, your local people see you in the halls, eat with you at lunch, stop by your office, etc. The remote people don’t have that access and can feel distant. Respond to them as quickly as possible. Make your local people set appointments. – Wayne Anderson, Leadership Science Institute LLC

3. Engage Regularly

Engage your remote workers on a daily basis through some kind of communication. Use multiple channels to communicate. Then, plan a regularly scheduled face-to-face meeting. This can be weekly, monthly, or annually, and could be combined with a training or coaching program. This constant interaction and engagement will help remote workers feel included in an important aspect of the organization. – Barbara OMalley, Exec Advance LLC

4. Schedule Video-Based Coaching

I think it’s incumbent, especially with virtual employees, to schedule time and look at one another when you’re speaking. We use Zoom to work with our clients and our employees. If we do not schedule time or talk with one another and hopefully face to face, silence becomes very loud and dangerous, as remote employees might end up wondering how they’re doing. – Tim Hagen, Progress Coaching

5. Trust Your Team

Set up work-from-home guidelines, such as emails must be responded to within 24 hours, use text for urgent matters, and no calls between certain hours to make sure teammates are not working around the clock. – LaKiesha Tomlin, Thriving Ambition, Inc

6. Make It Feel Inclusive

Hold virtual meetings and establish staff partnerships. Consider assigning remote staff with a local point of contact where communication and connection are valued. Do expect there to be a ramp-up period filled with clear steps, expectations and check-ins to ensure the process is fully embraced. – Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International

7. Filter For Mission, Values, Outcomes And Role

Help remote workers get aligned with mission, the values that truly matter to them, as well as the outcomes they love delivering to others and their natural role in any situation. This will keep them truly motivated and working more productively. – Yuri Kruman, MasterTheTalk.com

8. Have Reliable Tools First

If remote employees can’t download files, struggle hear on a conference call, and consistently receive meeting invitations for times when they are still asleep, you have failed to address the basics. Invest in reliable tools to make collaboration possible, then develop clear processes to use such tools. – Leila Bulling Towne, The Bulling Towne Group, LLC

9. Stay Focused On Goals, Not Activity

It is important to manage expectations and stay focused on goals when embracing a remote workforce. Concentrate on what is being accomplished. If we are meeting our goals, then great. If not, we need to look into the situation further. – Donald Hatter, Donald Hatter Inc.

10. Be Intentional

Create a remote workforce atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection. Be intentional in preparing and orientating employees for the remote workforce culture. Establish clear expectations. Make each team meeting count with intentional purpose and opportunities to engage and contribute in a variety of ways. – Tonyalynne Wildhaber, The Courage Practice

11. Create A Communication Strategy

Managing a productive team remotely begins with a strategy for communication. First, arrange for the appropriate number of weekly formal “report-ins.” Second, set guidelines about daily needs. Some people work better with a shopping list of questions and thoughts while others like a trickle. An understanding of what is urgent will mitigate inefficiency, allowing ultimate productivity. – Deborah Goldstein, DRIVEN Professionals

12. Avoid Multi-Tasking

Video conferences instead of phone conferences work well. Encourage people to stay in working mode and off email back-and-forth as much as is reasonable. Email trails with extensive “reply all” can be stifling on productivity. This tends to peak on Fridays as people are trying to move work off their plate. – Matt Norquist, Linkage, Inc.

13. Connect Their Goals With Yours

The world is shifting quickly to a workforce interested in learning and skills advancement rather than stability. Working for 30 years for the same company has gone the way of the dodo. I take a personal interest in my team’s learning and life goals, and in our meetings, will often take a moment to connect their interests to the goals of my company. – Tina Dietz, StartSomething Creative Business Solutions

14. Use Technology To Build Community

Building community is important to developing an engaged remote workforce. Use technology to create dedicated spaces for celebrating special days (e.g. birthdays), company milestones (e.g., months or years of service), as well as community recognition. Being intentional about creating community helps develop a corporate culture that inspires connection, which can result in increased productivity. – TC Cooper, UpwardAction ® LLC

15. Establish Close Bonds, Help And Support Frequently

Empathize and appreciate remote empoloyees’ lives by discussing family, commonalities and shared beliefs. On the management end, check in frequently (daily) using collaboration tools, shared docs and spreadsheets, phone calls, chat, and video to invest in the relationship. Show you are supportive of their success by using inquiry to help them achieve their goals rather than check on their progress and numbers. – Louis Carter, BPI