As the number of companies that offer telecommuting options rises, the need for a traditional office setting is shrinking. Workers are increasingly turning to their own kitchen tables and home offices as their workspaces of choice.
But what does this mean for managers that work remotely as well? Without a traditional office setting, it may seem even more difficult to engage employees and keep projects on track.
Managers who don’t share an office space with co-workers and employees may forget to keep in touch. Some may go a day or two without speaking or connecting, especially if there are no urgent deadlines or due dates approaching.
If you’re a remote manager, you’ll want to take the time each day to just reach out and connect – even if it is just to say hello. Maintaining frequent communication is a great way to establish a connection with your employees.
Email is the go-to form of communication for many companies, but email can seem impersonal and formal. It can be difficult to maintain a conversation through email or just chat about what everyone is working on.
Chat services are a great way to ask quick questions or maintain communication in a more natural setting. For long discussions or meetings, you’ll want to use video chat or even just a quick phone call.
2. Stay Lighthearted
When managers aren’t connected with the employees that they manage, they may come across as stern and strict. While there is a time and place for this kind of attitude, everyday discussions should be lighthearted and easy.
When you communicate via email or chat it is sometimes hard to convey certain emotions and it is extremely easily to be misunderstood. That is why it is important to write sentences that are short and clear.
However, don’t forget to show some warmth and personality in your communication. Use emoticons, and add some humor as well. Stay relaxed, open, and stress-free each time you engage with remote employees and work on establishing trust.
3. Get Help from Great Apps
There are dozens of apps out there that can help you connect with and manage employees from different locations. Task manager apps can help you and your remote team get a clear look at the tasks that need to be completed, their level of progress, and who is working on what.
Slack and Trello are awesome app options for businesses. While their premium services will come with a price tag, the money spent is usually well worth it.
Project management tools can be a great help or a reason for frustration. Just make sure that you have a process that works in place and then choose the right tool.
4. Create and Maintain an Office
When working remotely, things might get too loose and you could end up working on a couch with your laptop on your coffee table. Without a corporate office to go to each morning, finding a place to work can be a bit of a struggle. The solution? Creating a home office.
You can use a spare bedroom or other available portion of your home, such as an attic, a corner of the garage, even a hallway can be adapted. Respect other residents of your home and make sure your office area isn’t intrusive to the rest of the home. Most importantly, you should do regular home maintenance and take care of your office just like the rest of the house.
For those without extra space in their house, co-working options are available in most cities. Whatever choice you make, treat it like you would a typical office.
5. Make an Effort to Meet Your Team
Depending on the location of your team members, this step may be easier for some and impossible for others. If your team is in the same city or an area nearby, schedule regular meetings to get together and discuss work in person. This may be having a quarterly dinner, month coffee meetings, or even weekly outings.
When you can meet your team without the screen between you, it is easier to establish a strong connection and trust for continuing your business together.
6. Show Your Team You Care
You don’t need to break your budget just to show your remote workers that you value them, but something as small as a holiday card can let them know that you care about them. Other gift options can include freebies, t-shirts, or even gift cards.
As you establish an even stronger relationship of trust and understanding, your remote workers will put in more effort and you will see better results. Consider what you can do with the business budget that you have and take the extra step to show your appreciation.
Managing a team remotely can seem drastically different than managing a team in an office, but in the end, the employees all need the same things. If you’re a remote manager, do what you can to build a strong relationship with your workers, show that you appreciate the work that they do, and encourage a foundation of trust.
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