A survey conducted by ConnectSolutions discovered that employees who worked remotely reported having better overall quality of life. For instance, more remote workers exercised regularly, slept better and ate a healthier diet than peers who came into the office. The Harvard Business Review supports these findings, stating that remote employees answer more calls, have higher job satisfaction rates and are more likely to stay at the company.
As you can see, providing the option to work from home can benefit both your company and individual employees. And while there are a myriad of positives, remote work can be challenging, especially for managers. How do you manage a person you can't see? With specialized leadership training, you can help your managerial staff overcome distance and connect with their remote employees. Here are a few management tips for tackling the challenges of remote leadership:
Alter Your Nonverbal Communication Approach
In an office setting, you're able to chat with employees face to face, and so how you word emails, while still important, isn't as imperative. You're able to build rapport in person that makes what you say relatively clear when your conversation is online. Remote employees don't have that benefit. Interpreting your emails and chats becomes much more difficult, so be as clear as possible, both with your content and tone.
To help get your tone across, use tools like gifs or emoticons to express your exact feelings on the matters you're discussing. This approach may sound millennial, but there's a reason the younger generations use gifs and emoticons: They make expressing emotion and tone online much easier.
Plan Regular Vocal Communication
In addition to clarifying your meaning in nonverbal communication, take time to get vocal. Schedule phone calls and, better yet, video chats with your remote employees. These should be frequent and consistent, as hearing your employee's voice can help the two of you bond. It's much easier to express tone and intention when you communicate verbally. Plus, video chat gives you the benefit of body language.
Maintain a Schedule
Avoid cancelling or rescheduling video or phone chats with remote employees, as they're important for long-distance communication. In fact, set up a schedule with distance staff in which you regularly talk about the work they do and how they feel about the job. For instance, you might have one-on-one conversations every week and video calls once a month.
Make these meetings a little longer than you would for employees you see at the office. You want to leave some time for talking about life and more personal topics. In person, you learn about your employee's dog because he or she has pictures on his or her desk. However, you don't know if your remote employee has pets, family, etc., unless you talk about it. Getting to know a little more about this individual's life can help you build a stronger manager-employee relationship.
"Remote employees need clear ways to advance."
Invest in Your Employees
Consider advancement and future goals when you communicate with remote workers. It's easy to forget about these things - out of sight, out of mind and all. However, remote employees also want to feel like they can grow in the company. When you talk on the phone, discuss your employees' futures and what both you and they can do to achieve those career goals.
Use Training Tools
Managing people from a distance presents a unique set of challenges, mainly in the realms of communication, relationship-building and employee investment. Seek training opportunities at work that will help you better your leadership skills so you can serve unique employees, such as those who work remotely. ej4's leadership curriculum gives you access to online video training designed to help managers improve their skills.