In today’s world, the likelihood that you will manage offsite or remote employees is very high. While building the culture you want, it is important to help them feel part of the team even though they may sit several hundred miles away from you. Here are a few tips to help you continue to build engaged employees and a positive culture in this unique environment.
Make sure to create a weekly one-on-one schedule and keep it!
The best way to ensure your remote team knows that they are important is for you to set a schedule to have exclusive time for each one (or if you have a large team, have at least smaller team meetings) and that you will not break that time! Nothing sends the wrong message faster than needing to reschedule a one-on-one meeting frequently – it tells the employees that you don’t find the time spent with them important. And, when they are remote, it doesn’t take much for the person to feel left out. I found that scheduling a weekly one-on-one with a person to be extremely helpful in giving them a better feel for the environment, the changes that are happening at the main location that might not directly impact her but is good for her to be aware of, and to answer questions. When possible, I would conduct these meetings via a video conference option. Remember body language is a huge part of communication.
During team conference calls – remember to touch base to ensure understanding of the topic being discussed.
Off-site employees can easily be missed on conference calls. It’s hard to jump into the conversation from the phone if the ideas are percolating in the room. Additionally, it is easier to become distracted by emails and other items while taking the meeting via phone call as opposed to being in the meeting room. To keep staff involved and present during the conference call, provide pauses to check-in that will give the remote staff the opportunity to share ideas and provide input. It might also be helpful if you assign the remote staff portions of the agenda to cover – this will keep them involved and the ability to speak up.
Email/IM communication will be a huge resource to know the daily concerns – schedule time to respond.
Many times, remote employees rely heavily on email, direct message (DM), or instant messenger (IM) to get fast answers. Whenever possible, have staff that needs immediate answers to questions to send IMs to a group so if you aren’t available to answer someone else will have the opportunity to help. Plan with the employee to keep in touch with one another daily on “non-immediate” items. Agree on a time that you will respond by as well – and stick to it! Remember, staff in the same office will simply walk into your office when they need something, however, the remote employee only has email as a tool. Ensure you are communicating the importance of the remote staff just like you do with a person who walks in by sticking to your agreed response time.
Hopefully, you will find these tips helpful in managing remote employees while still building a culture of engagement. Have you used any tips or tricks that have worked well for you? Please share your ideas below.