Advancements in technology have paved the way for virtual teams and work from home arrangements. Remote work allows companies to hire the best talent regardless of location and save on office expenses. Remote employees, in turn, get to enjoy the freedom and flexibility to attain a healthy work-life balance. While working remotely comes with a lot of benefits, it also presents challenges such as difficulties in monitoring work performance and building team cohesion.
Here are some tips to help you establish a successful working relationship with remote employees.
#1. Leverage project management software and communication tools
When teams don’t meet face to face, communication can easily get muddled and collaboration can suffer. The best way to communicate with remote employees is through a mix of technologies.
- Project management systems – Trello, Asana, Basecamp
These software programs organize documents and conversations into projects. They are also used for assigning tasks, setting deadlines and priorities, tracking progress, and promoting accountability across the team.
- Email – Gmail, Outlook
Emails are great for sharing files and providing written records of agreements that are easy to track and archive. They have a level of formality that instant messages do not have, which is perfect for professional communications.
- Team chat apps – Skype, Slack
Chat programs work best for casual conversations, real-time interaction, and messages that require an immediate response.
- Video conferencing tools – Zoom, Google Hangouts
Some sensitive issues are better handled using video chat rather than just text since the former gives you more visual cues on others’ reactions and provides a more “human” touch. Since other parties can see you, you are required to give your undivided attention rather than multitask, which often happens during text chats.
- Screen sharing software – TeamViewer, Screenleap, Join.me
These tools allow you to share your screen so that another person can see exactly what you are doing. It’s great for sharing presentations and conducting step-by-step demos.
#2. Create overlapping times for communicating in different time zones
If your remote employees are working in different time zones, make sure that the team has an overlapping period when everyone is working so that they can meet and collaborate in real time. With no overlap period, your team will suffer unnecessary delays from waiting on other team members to reply during their respective shifts.
To determine how much overlap time you need from each worker, it’s important to consider their role in the team. Those with strategic roles will require less overlap time with the rest of the team than those with more transactional roles. For example, the person crafting your marketing campaign’s strategy might only need to have an overlap time once a week, while your mid-level developers who are collaboratively writing code will require daily overlap.
#3. Have regular meetings
Your team needs to develop a consistent meeting rhythm. This means institutionalizing the frequency of different types of meetings.
- One-on-one sessions
It’s important to set aside time to listen to your workers so that you could better understand and immediately address their issues. These meetings are also perfect avenues for feedback where employees can learn from their successes and mistakes. It’s best to end every session with a short list of action items that your employee should address.
The frequency of these sessions will depend on your organization, but it’s best to have them more often with new team members so that you can provide ample guidance during their adjustment phase. It’s also advisable to have longer sessions with those who work completely remotely since you don’t have the luxury of seeing them in the office to build rapport.
- Daily huddles
Team members use these 10-minute stand-up meetings to align themselves with one another by discussing yesterday’s victories, today’s priorities, and any updates.
- Weekly team meetings
These hour-long meetings are meant for making adjustments to your weekly load in accordance with your key performance indicators (KPIs) and priorities.
#4. Encourage remote socializing
“One of the biggest things remote workers miss out on is workplace socializing and social engagements outside of work. So bring remote employees in on these,” said Ryne Higgins, senior manager of eCommerce at Peacock Alley.
You could set up a messaging channel on your team chat app designed for non-work topics like jokes, memes, songs, videos, or anything that could bring some fun to the workplace. “The casual use of such a channel can make remote team members feel more included," Higgins added.
Remote work is here to stay
99% of the respondents of the 2019 State of Remote Work study said they would like to at least work remotely on some days. This flexible working arrangement has become so important that many workers said they’d leave their current jobs for an opportunity to work remotely. These statistics only prove that businesses now have to invest in technologies and adopt new practices to meet these changing employee expectations and bridge the challenges of remote work.
The IT experts of Red Key Solutions will make sure that your company is well-equipped with the right technology solutions to respond to the demands of today’s workforce. Partner with us today!