4. Build Effectiveness Through Regular Touchstone Meetings:
Coordination of a number of people working remotely in different regions can be difficult but it is important that at least once a week you touch base with a remote worker in a formal way.
This can include a weekly or bi-weekly virtual team meeting with several remote workers and a weekly or bi-weekly meeting between a worker and a supervisor. Use technology such as SKYPE or Web-ex to enable video communications to help bring a more personal relationship to the table.
5. Build Relationships:
Take the time to get to know your remote workers and provide opportunities for them to get to know you and other employees.
Providing or posting an org chart with pictures, brief profiles and locations can help build connections. At each meeting take the time to profile one worker and ask that person to share some interesting information.
When you hold virtual meetings add an element of small talk at the beginning. Consider a topical theme to begin each meeting and ask the participants on say one thing about the theme, something as simple as what was the best movie you saw in the past few months or even what is the weather like where you are.
Encourage interaction in appropriate social networks such as LinkedIn or somewhere else employees can ‘bump’ into one another.
6. Focus on the work not counting time:
Provide remote workers with deadlines but understand that their workflow may not match with the work patterns of an employee who is present in the office.
Depending on the job remote workers may not work 9-5. If their role includes coverage for specific hours of the day then spell this out clearly. Indicate your expectations for responsiveness to you, colleagues and if relevant customers, clients or the public.
Indicating you expect a response within 12 or 24 business hours for normal requests is fine generally, however if you expect them to be ‘on duty’ as a certain time you may indicate an expectation of a 30 minute response or acknowledgement window. If the work is getting done within time line expectations don’t focus on the specific time of day.
Virtual workers can be a cost and time saving measure and a way to increase retention of good employees for a small or medium sized business.
Don’t shy away from the opportunity to hire a virtual employee but put in place the steps you need to make it work for the employee, you and your business.
About the author
Tara Orchard is a coach, trainer, consultant and writer who applies her insights into people and Masters training in psychology to facilitate performance improvements, relationships and communication for people and businesses. She has worked with organizations to deliver clarity on culture and brand, develop their people and manage relationships with social network communities. Over the past 18 years she has consulted with 1000's of people who want to make effective transitions in their lives. Tara has a knack for hearing what people are thinking and helping them see what they need to see. She is the founder of her own career and social network coaching business, works with several other organizations as a coach and consultant and is about to complete her first book on the "psychology of effective social networking". Tara invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn .LinkedIn