Five Strategies for Managing Remote Employees



Back in the day, we all showed up for work at the same place around the same time.

Upon arrival, you might have poured yourself a cup of coffee and talked with a few co-workers about the big game over the weekend, or the laughed about last night’s episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.

(Wow. Talk about old school!)

We’ve had extensive conversations with our clients about remote access employees, and the IT readiness, precautions and equipment that scenario requires. But your IT is only one piece of managing your remote employees.

Another important issue is creating and maintaining company unity when you have employees who are home-based in the same city, to data workers in another country.

As you probably have painfully realized, managing a workforce in multiple locations makes today’s brick and mortar office sometimes seem like a long ago dream. There’s no more popping your head around the cubicle to see how a project is progressing. The days of running into someone at the copy machine and using the opportunity to ask a quick question are pretty much over.

Drawing from years of working with our clients in the management of remote employees, we’ve come up with five basic strategies to building teamwork and keeping your company culture alive even when employees are working from one or more remote locations.

We’re happy to share them with you here:

  1. Creating culture. This is a good place to start if you want a cohesive, high-performing workforce (and who doesn’t?), because with remote employees comes the challenge of keeping them engaged as a part of the company and team. This is critical to your success. Their overall motivation and drive to perform at the top of their game is magnified when connected to the company culture. Strive to foster communication and events that includes everyone. It could be as simple as taking a few minutes for small talk before getting down to business on a call, catching up on family, or sharing a humorous experience. Or, create digital company games and contests that allows everyone, no matter where they are, to participate.
  2. Communicating. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that with employees in a remote location, you won’t need to communicate as much to get the job done. It actually takes more engagment. You may have to work extra hard to keep communication lines open, making yourself available for calls, remote chats or video calls. Distance and lack of common experiences means it’s up to you to ensure that remote employees do not feel isolated. Don’t miss any opportunity to engage with your off-site employees and they will feel more connected to the team and company.
    (We can help you with the multiple avenues that ensure this happens: email, video conferencing, phone, chat platforms and webcasting.)
  3. Maintaining employee accountability. When you don’t have the benefit of daily face-to-face interactions and visual contact, it’s sometimes hard to know if an employee is performing to expectation. Setting goals, communicating objectives and holding each employee accountable for what he or she is tasked to do is key. There are dozens of virtual project management systems like Basecamp, JIRA, and Flow to make it easier to keep everyone on track, on schedule and going with the flow.
  4. Establishing a system of checks and balances. Again, your project management software can help you accomplish this, but a daily, or at least regular, status call is also a good idea. This ensures the business at hand continues in the right direction, and allows you to see, for example, that Employee A has completed Part A, enabling Employee B move forward on Part B, so that Employee C can move on to Part C. As a manager, you’ll sleep better at night, and as an employee, they’ll have the assurance they are doing what they are supposed to do.
  5. Conducting performance checks. If the performance of a remote employee comes into question, it’s crucial to address it quickly. Sometimes, because you may not see him or her every day, there can be a tendency to ignore performance issues and hope it improves on its on. It’s best to correct performance issues as soon as they arrive to keep everyone else on the team happy and productive, and to avoid other issues with the employee in question.

It’s true. The days of office potlucks and impromptu face-to-face meetings may be going away. In fact, a normal company meeting likely includes employees in a conference room in Houston, connected to someone working in a home office in Buffalo, an analyst in Germany, and someone calling in from a manufacturing facility outside Mumbai.

The more companies engage remote employees, the more adept you’ll need to be at managing the process, from bringing the culture to them to having the right IT equipment and capabilities. Everyone is doing it. Let us help you do it better, (and better that your competition).