Companies accustomed to a traditional office-based workforce making the switch to remote employees often have to learn how to support them through trial and error. But the result is that many of the long-standing fears held about a remote work force are put to rest:
- If we go remote our company culture will suffer.
- If I cannot manage my employees in an office, productivity will suffer.
- We need to maintain office hours to accomplish our goals.
But perhaps one of the truly challenging things to accomplish well among a remote workforce is onboarding your new hire, or transitioning a traditional employee to remote. The best thing that a manager can do for their remote employee is to make their goals and expectations clear.
Without face to face contact, and the nuances in tones and facial features, management may have to rely on keeping their message focused without underlying meanings. Over-communication needs to become the norm for all businesses.
Communication forms also need to adapt. Managers will need to become familiar with a variety of chat and video platforms to enable effective communication, dependent on the communication style of each remote employee. You may need to brush up on your texting or phone skills, learn a new video conferencing system, or become more effective at efficient email correspondence. One can never have too much information. Most employees would rather have too much information then get blindsided because they were not communicated with enough.
All of this communication is great, but without organization it can become very cumbersome. Make sure that you and your remote employees have the tools they need to be organized. File storage systems like Dropbox® or One Drive® can help your team centralize all of their files and documents into one central location, while collaboration platforms such as MS Teams® and Slack® provide instant chat access to individuals and teams across the company. Scalable, cloud based services like these alleviate the concern of running out of storage or losing data during a laptop breakdown.
Help your new remote employees get onboarded appropriately by setting proper expectations and goals, communicating often, listening attentively, and providing them the tools they need to succeed. Getting the balance right will require some experimentation, but we don’t expect to get something so complex right on the first try. Gather feedback and try, try again!