Remote but Not Forgotten


As remote work becomes more and more popular, many business owners wonder how (or if) it would work for their team. In this article, we will share tips for creating a great employee experience and having happy, productive employees. 

First and foremost (and we really can’t stress this enough) ...communication, communication, communication. 

When team members work remotely, regular communication becomes critical. In fact, managers may need to communicate directly with remote employees more than with an in-person workforce. Why? Because communication from a manager IS the remote professional’s connection to the company- often one of their only connections. Sure, they access company platforms and systems to do their jobs, interact with teammates and customers online, etc. But in a remote setting, they don’t have easy access to supervisors for impromptu hallway conversations, nor can they do a quick office pop-in to ask a question. Remote staff are reliant on their manager to create space for easy connection despite physical distance. 

Of particular importance- make sure remote teams are in the loop on things like policy or procedure changes, new product/service rollouts, or communication about team activities. Most small companies don’t have a communications department or an employee intranet hub to share important announcements. Those types of communications will need to come from a supervisor. Be mindful of including remote staff in announcements so critical information is not missed. 

Working remotely can feel lonely. The employee may be surrounded by family during their workday at home, but they are physically alone when it comes to job duties. Interoffice communication doesn’t happen as organically with a remote team- leaders must be intentional about creating opportunities for team bonding so the remote professional feels a sense of belonging. 

Delayed responses can feel like an eternity to an employee waiting for direction or answers. Not receiving a timely response can cause remote employees to feel as if they aren’t valued members of the team, worthy of your attention and time. Nobody likes that feeling! And feeling ignored certainly doesn’t create connection or build trust and loyalty. 

Other key considerations when managing remote teams:

  • Be clear about job description and expectations so the remote employee has enough direction to perform with minimal supervision. 
  • Watch nonverbal or subtle facial cues on video chats- they may indicate difficulties amongst the team. Be especially proactive with introverted employees who may not feel comfortable speaking up. 
  • The tone of digital communications can be misinterpreted- this is amplified when the employee is remote. Be aware and craft responses with care.
  • Pick up the phone or set up a video chat if there is high potential for misinterpretation with something to be communicated- especially if information being shared is delicate/sensitive.
  • Regular follow up sets a tone of accountability and can help maintain remote employee productivity. Hint- be careful you don’t land in the micromanager camp! Following up on requests, spot checking work is great. Stepping in to take over or control without honoring the employee’s autonomy or input is micromanaging. 
  • Make sure every employee has everything they need to do their job. This may sound like common sense, but when an employee is remote, significant time and productivity can be lost when the employee doesn’t have the necessary tools or information. 

Communication creates connection. Connection creates trust. Trust creates loyalty. Loyalty creates engaged, productive staff members.