How to Get The Most Out of Your Remote Workers

Dec 7, 2015 by Matt Dixon

Remote working is on the rise. Even if you are not currently working with remote workers, you might find yourself doing so in the near future. In the US, 24% of employees work from home at least part of the time. And in the UK, 13.9% of the workforce is comprised of remote workers.

If you are wondering how to manage and lead a remote team, here are a few simple yet effective practices you can implement right away.

Communication

My first step when working with a remote team is to setup some sort of instant messaging, typically Skype, for the team. Everyone is encouraged to hop on Skype if they are stuck on a task for more than about 15 minutes. We do not want constant interruptions, but do not want anyone wasting time, either. It is easy to hold audio and video conferences with your remote team members, which is absolutely key. Do not underestimate the value of being able to see or hear your employees or contractors as opposed to being in touch by means of written communication only. A lot gets lost in translation when communication is exclusively via email. Voice or video chat allows you to see their facial expressions and body language as well as maintain communication that covers more than the bare essentials.

The Daily Standup

I have touched on this topic before, but it is worth repeating. We all know the importance of communicating with our team on a daily basis. If we can determine where we are, where we came from, and how far away we are from our goal, we can achieve success. It is impossible to be successful on a regular basis without this crucial communication within our team.

Time Zones

When working with a distributed team it is easy to forget the time zone difference. It is best at the start of a project to get everyone to send out their typical hours and when they like to take lunch. From there, make a list of time ranges where meetings can occur. If everyone sticks to those time slots, no one will have a meeting during lunch.

Be Available

Just as the employees in the office approach their manager at their convenience, make sure your remote staff can also reach out to you or their managers whenever they run into trouble. Make the system as transparent as possible so your remote staff doesn’t feel left out and unheard. It should be easy to reach you. Of course, different time zones might obstruct communication with a remote team. In that case, planning and finding out overlapping times on beforehand, accompanied with proper communication on who can be reached when, is key.

Conclusion

Many companies are already working with remote staff and many others are thinking about implementing some sort of remote working arrangement. The flexibility that comes with remote workers is beneficial for the bottom line of the companies. Companies save on infrastructure and other maintenance costs. But without the right tools and processes in place, managing remote workers is easier said than done. Once you have everything set up though, there can be a tremendous upside for both the company and the employees.