Nowadays, virtually all businesses need to manage workers in different locations, be it a different county or even a different continent. Managing remote workers can be a challenge, though, which is why we’ve put together tips to help your process go smoothly.
Balancing Schedule Inconvenience
One of the main challenges when managing remote workers is the time difference. For example, If you're based on the U.S. and want to chat about product updates with your engineering team in Japan, you can’t expect them to take a call at 7 a.m. their time simply to suit the time that might be most convenient for you.
Here are our best tips for making the most of time differences with colleagues:
- Adjust your calendar settings so they simultaneously reflect both your current time and the current time of remote workers you engage with often. The calendar then becomes your “go to” place for setting up new meetings that work the best for both of you. Here is the link to how you can set up a Google Calendar to show multiple time zones at once.
- If time zone differences between you remote contacts are too extreme, to find a happy medium, consider evenly rotating inconvenient times 50/50 so neither party bears the brunt of the inconvenient time 100% of the time.
- If you find yourself up against extreme time zone differences and select the 50/50 rotation option suggested above, consider sending a empathetic chat message to team members bearing the brunt of the most inconvenient time on that particular week. One example message could be: “Hang in there, you’re almost done for the evening [Coffee Emoji]. We’ve got your back next week.”
Hire Good Communicators
Nowadays, virtually any role can be remote. But, to be successful at working remotely, you need someone who is adept at time management and an effective communicator. Whenever hiring a remote employee, consider assessing their communication skills. There are many ways to assess these qualities in a new hire prospect, including reputable personality tests (i.e. Myers Briggs) which rank for qualities like introversion vs. extroversion, empathy, etc.
Check in Regularly and Thoughtfully
When it comes to work contacts, regardless of where they’re based, you’ll want to check in regularly. Make sure you have an agenda in place so you don’t end up going off track.
Here are some other suggestions for keeping meetings remote meetings thoughtful and effective:
- Video chat often. 93% of communication is nonverbal and video chatting allows you to see facial expressions that reflect key reactions to requests, updates, etc. Video chatting also allows you to give and receive empathy, which strengthens relationships.
- When chatting online, enhance messages with emoticons. Share animated gifs. Consider creating new group chats about light-hearted, non-work related topics, like “Happy Hour Fridays.”
- Make a video recording (using a tool like SnagIt) for remote workers that contains a visual feed of your screen and audio of your voice. This approach is more personal that sending a text-based chat message and is the next best thing to adding a human aspect to communication when in person meetings or live video conferencing simply aren’t an option.
Watch Out for Overworking
Some people worry that remote workers won’t work as hard as people in the main office will. In fact, the opposite can be true. Often times remote employees work longer hours and burn themselves out more quickly. A recent study showed that remote workers spend 9.5 percent more time working than their office-based counterparts and are 13 percent more productive.
You need to watch out for this and manage working hours. Here are some tips for doing so:
- Suggest that your remote workers use a time-tracking app, like these highly rated ones, to prevent overworking. If remote workers are paid hourly some of these apps may be even more useful to them because time-tracking apps often also provide users with timesheet templates and the ability to bill external sources.
- In times of celebration (e.g. the company receives new funding, the CEO is celebrating a birthday, a new staff member has joined the team), make sure to share the good news with remote workers via chat and upload photos of the event so they feel included, too.
- If the CEO or HR orders promotional items for employees, make sure remote workers are always included in the quantity tally and that mailings to them are included in the budget.
Build Rapport with Every Colleague. Here’s How...
It is important to build relationships with colleagues so you can effectively work through problems and enhance productivity levels. So, how do you do it? By taking the time to get to know each and every colleague - remote or not.
Here are some tips for building better relationships with colleagues:
- Connect with colleagues and vendors through 1:1 “direct” chats in addition to chatting with them in larger group chats. Direct chats can be the perfect place for small talk from time to time.
- If possible, schedule face-to-face time with remote colleagues and long-term vendors at least once a year. At ChatWork, for example, we hold an annual all staff conference. In addition, we also fly smaller teams out to either our Japan or Silicon Valley office during other parts of the year so we can bridge any cultural and/or language barriers that may naturally occur within a global company.
- Try not to cancel 1:1 meetings you schedule with remote workers, especially at the last minute. Sometimes that is the only “face time” you get on a regular basis and because of this the time is just as, if not more, valuable than face time with colleagues in your own office.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips for managing relationships with remote workers. And if you have any tools or tips we may have missed, we welcome you to share them in the comments section of this post!