According to a 2017 Gallup Poll, 43% of Americans report spending at least some time working remotely. It saves time and money for both the employee and employer, but there are drawbacks. Managing a team remotely can be challenging – for both the employee and employer. A main root cause of many of the issues stem from one simple, yet intangible, thing – communication. How do you effectively communicate with your employees and how do they feel hear and connected? There are some simple ways to ensure this need of communication is fulfilled.
Back in the 1950’s, McDonald's tried to franchise their highly successful speedy food model and initially failed. One reason was lack of communication with these remote teams/owners. Unless they personally visited each location, they didn’t have an effective way of communicating with them or vice versa. Now they didn’t have the ever increasing technology we have today, which can make communication easier.
Here are some quick tips on successful communication and field management tips:
- If you have an in-office team as well, they get to see you every day. Lucky ducks! They can have conversations in passing, in the break room or by just stopping by. Switch it up! Make them make appointments, which will free you up for more time to meet with the remote employees, allow them to meet with you more on the fly.
- Make video conference calls, Facetime or Skype the norm. No one really likes to be on camera, but by making this the norm, it will become more comfortable. Practice makes perfect or at least less terrifying and with time will be easier. It also humanizes communication. Putting a face to a name. Relationship building.
- Record trainings, key information, updates and send them to the team, both in-office and remote. Bonus is they can refer to it again if they need to! This ensures that both teams are receiving the same message and that they are getting more time with the “boss," which is key to feeling connected and communicated to. Now you can do this with email but to really make a library of these transmissions, an app like ONE by Movista, organizes them and so much more.
- Use calendaring and task management solutions to your advantage, and theirs. This sets expectations, allows for celebration of milestones met and where there may be a hang-up. Nothing is worse than being asked for a status report from your boss or leadership and having to stumble through giving it. By having an up-to-date calendaring and task management system, the “ummm" and “wait a sec, I think I have that” won’t happen.
- Celebrate successes throughout the team, in-office and remotely. Employees like to be recognized for a job well done. Not many shy away from an “attaboy (or girl)," even though they may pretend to. Secretly, they will love being recognized for their hard work.
There are many ways to communicate effectively in this ever growing workforce of both in-office and remote employees. These are just some of the tips that are easy to apply and get things moving in the right direction within the new definition of what makes up a team. Want to become a more effective manager of remote teams? Here are some more resources. The key is using technology to your advantage.