10 Ideas for managing people who work remotely
If you’re building a remote team it’s super crucial to treat them the same as you would your local team – and this often means making big changes to yourself and how you work. Remote teams need more active communications and can often feel disconnected from the main office.
To get the most from your team take your role as manager to the next level with these 10 ideas:
1. Hire good people
If you hire good people they require less support and certainly don’t require much “management”. Simple fact is that good people do good work by default.
If you don’t hire good people expect a long and difficult time as a manager – this is the same no matter where your team are located.
Take your time and hire good people – especially important for those working remotely. You have to be able to trust them, and you don’t want to spend your entire time “managing” them.
2. Set expectations of “engagement” right at the start
When you hire remote people you must set out early what it means to be remote and what is expected from you and them. Such as how you will interact and the deliverables that are expected.
If you have remote workers working from hom then you must encourage (and help) them to create a separation between work and home. It’s much harder, at least initially, for people who work from home remotely to switch off and draw a line between work and home. You must help them do this, otherwise they will be working more than they should be.
3. Book 1:1s and stick to them
The one to one (1:1) is a powerful session where you both get to build a strong relationship. If you talk about work, fine, if not, that is fine too. Here’s a handy Cultivated Management template
for you to use.
Once you have scheduled the 1:1 you must stick to as much as possible. It shows that you value this interaction and consider it as important as all of the other things you have to do. By moving it, forgetting it or cutting it short you send a message that your relationship is not that important. So book a 1:1 and stick to it – weekly works best, especially so for remote workers.
4. Say hello every morning
When I was managaging a lot of people remotely I created an Evernote “template” with everyone’s name in it and a checkbox next to each of them.
Every morning I would create a new “note” from the template and start working the list. By lunch I would ensure I have said hello to everyone. For those in the office this would always be a face to face hello. For those remotely it would always be via the appropriate comms channel. This would always be a simple “text” hello, usually via our HipChat channel – no need for a conference call.
By saying hello to everyone you show that you care and that you’re there for them if they need anything. It freaks people out to start with, but they soon get used to it.
5. Meet them in-person (if possible)
It might not always be possible to meet them in person, but if you can, then do it. There is nothing like looking in their eyes and meeting someone. We always tried to organise a physical meeting every quarter. We didn’t always make it but we tried.
6. Invest in decent communication tools
Make sure you get some decent video conferencing tools. Try to always use video conferencing, this is much better than voice, but voice also works well on its own.
Investing in good technology with good audio should mean that you’ll be up and running with a conversations quickly. No matter how much we invested though we still often had rubbish audio, or the video would get dropped, or we simply had to revert to the trusty telephone.
7. Listen more than you talk
Listen, a lot. And then action what you can from the conversations. Working remotely can be a lonely and frustrating experience. Make sure you listen to those working remotely and act on problems they have.
8. Invest in awareness of remote working for everyone not remote
The biggest challenge to working remotely is the lack of awareness of what it’s like to be remote by those in the office. One of the best ways to do this is to have an entire “remote working” day where everyone works remotely. This helps to build awareness of what it’s like to work remotely.
Encouraging open team dialogue about frustrations and problems helps to raise the collective consciousness of the team – a positive thing.
9. Create a supportive community of interest tasked with improving the experience
Creating a community of interest around remote workers can help to empower those working remotely to air concerns, suggest improvements and make the whole experience better.
The changes that need to be made in order to make remote workers successful often has to be made with the local head office team. Include them in this community.
10. Feedback remotely
Giving someone who works remotely negative feedback can be tricky, but if you cannot get a face to face in a decent amount of time between the behaviour and the feedback, then go for a video conference call.
Giving them feedback is no different to anyone else. Keep it professional, keep it calm, keep it about behaviours and don’t turn it in to a conversation. You will lose many of the non-verbal clues and feedback which will make it harder to work out how the conversation went.
Don’t let days go by between giving feedback and talking to this direct report again. If they are dwelling on the feedback you want to make sure you keep dialogue open.
Trust me on this one – if you have being doing 1:1s and your relationship is strong, then giving them feedback will not be an issue.
If you’re thinking of building a remote team in Poland then I can help – I can help you navigate the tricky challenge of building a team in wonferful Poland, if of course, you even need a team there. Check out the Poland Potential site for more on this service.