Out of sight, out of mind. It’s easy to forget about your remote workers when things get busy and you’re just trying to get through your day. But for managers, it’s more critical than ever to ensure that you are paying attention to your remote workers – the economy and employment numbers have turned into the employees favor and there are a lot more opportunities out there for talented workers. Here are just a few quick thoughts that I try to keep in mind regarding our remote staff:
- Make sure everyone is invited to meetings. Whether it’s a quick huddle or a planning meeting to go over everyone’s schedule at CES or the latest update on a new project, I make sure everyone is invited and that I work around everyone’s schedule to get 100% attendance. And, I make sure there is time allocated to hearing from everyone – because every one of our team members is valued and recognized as such.
- Recognition and reward. Too often, managers fail to recognize contributions from remote workers. More important, they fail to recognize a job well done in front of the entire company – virtual and non-virtual employees included. The message you are sending is that you simply take for granted those employees you don’t see on a day-to-day basis. Change that mindset and begin to think of your team – those in the office and those in remote offices and/or work-from-home or contract workers – as one cohesive unit.
- Don’t let your remote workers become punching bags. It’s so easy for office workers to try to pin the blame on remote workers. They believe that since they are present and in front of you, they can simply play the blame game – and when they do, you simply say “let me call so-and-so and see what they have to say about this”. Never let an office worker play the blame game against a remote worker, because news travels fast in any company, and it’s incredibly difficult to undo misinformation.
- Make sure you catch up on a personal level with your remote workers. In an office setting, it’s easy to keep up with your team members lives. I don’t mean you have to become great friends or share too much, but it’s only natural that people hear about each other’s personal lives and make comments – “I heard your son won the spelling bee, that’s cool.” So, make a point of asking about or commenting on your remote team member’s lives – small talk, chit chat – what I like to call ‘the personal touch’.