The off-site employee toiling from a home office or an out-of-state or country location is a reality of today’s growing organizations.
How can these dispersed workers be managed as effectively as those who work right outside the supervisors office?
It takes a new skill set for managers, and many are still figuring out which processes work best.
At the core of this new approach is creating a foundation of extraordinary communication. Managers handling remote workers have only the tone of their voices and the effectiveness of their responses to use when responding to questions and building connections with these out-of-site employees.
If you sound out of sorts and brusque each time you are contracted, the remote employee will shy away from contacting you and take on more decisions on their own. Unless you have totally communicated with them the overall goals and strategies of the company, this can lead to improper assignment of priorities and inconsistent quality of work.
More than anything else, you have to be available to your remote workers and provide them the support they need when they need it. If you cannot do this yourself, and still complete your other tasks, you will have to assign a help team to ensure everyone stays on the same page. Remember to ensure that your support team works different shifts if your remote workers are scattered across different time zones.
After ensuring you are ready and available to talk to remote workers, the third management strategy you need to display is reliability. The remote worker needs to know that when they say something it is being handled and that they can depend that it will be looked after. In all distance relationships, trust and dependability are crucial if both parties are to continue to stay fully committed to each other, and that includes workers and managers.
There are many ways to communicate with remote workers and while you will likely fall into certain scheduled routines (conference calls each week or status reports sent bi-weekly, for example), don’t limit yourself to these venues. Use every possible method of communication at your disposal from email, to phone, to Skype, to scheduled personal visits. It is important that you make the effort as regularly as possible to meet remote employees in their work environment so you have a better understanding of how they work and demonstrate your respect for it.
Most importantly, pay attention to the amount and quality of work your remote employee produces more than how they do it. Many remote workers gets the job done and then some, but by the nature of their environment, they do not work in a traditional way. They may get up at 4 am and finish their shift by noon, or work late into the night after their children are sound asleep. Judging the method will be futile and unnecessary; instead judge their results.