I manage some people who work from home full-time in a remote location. What are some best practices I should keep in mind for managing people with whom I have virtually no face time?
It can be difficult to foster a strong relationship with team members when you manage remotely. Here are three approaches you can take to ensure you have a strong relationship with your employees regardless of where they are physically located.
Manage by deliverables
It may be uncomfortable to feel that you can’t physically see that your staff members are at their desks working. If they work from home, how do you know if they are really working or if they’re doing their laundry? The answer is that what you are really interested in is whether or not their work is being done with quality and on time. As long as they are accomplishing that, if they can get their laundry done at the same time, more power to them.
Make sure the employee’s goals and deliverables are well-understood by you both. Review and give frequent feedback about whether or not expectations are being met. If it’s important that your employee be available during certain work hours or for meetings, be sure that’s understood. Otherwise, if there is flexibility, let the employee know that it’s the work that’s important, not the time of day they’re doing it.
Make sure they have the technology they need
In order for employees to be effective when working from home, they need to have proper access to the organization’s infrastructure and tools to do their job. Talk to them about their experience and find out how you can help to make sure they have the tools and technologies to be productive.
Instant messaging is a good way to keep in touch with remote employees. With Skype and Webcams you can make video calls. And, of course, you’ll want your work-from-home employee to be able to log-in securely to the company’s Intranet.
It’s often easy to give less attention to employees who you don’t see in the office. Make it a point to have regular one-on-one meetings to talk about what’s going on with their work and discuss any issues. Work at developing the same kind of rapport you have with employees you see in the office. Schedule some face-to-face time periodically, even if it requires travel. Be sure and include remote employees in meetings and team building activities so that they know they are valued as an equal member of the team.
With the proper attention, tools and communication, your relationship with a remote employee can be every bit as strong as your relationship with those who you see face-to-face every day.
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