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Working with Remote Employees

Flexibility on the job is a top priority for many job seekers, so more and more companies are offering remote work options to attract desirable applicants. Yet, once companies have recruited and on-boarded these ideal candidates, out-of-site can soon become out-of-mind.

While pressure is on teleworkers to stay visible as they work separate from their colleagues, employers should also make efforts to help them feel connected. This goes beyond providing them with top-of-the-line technology that monitors their work time, lets them interact during meetings, and protects data. It means that employers must be aware that remote employees have the same psychological needs as on-site workers, such as the need for recognition and support, and a sense of belonging.

Assuredly, managing remote workers has challenges; yet employers still must attempt to treat them similar to their on-site staff.  To do so consider the following three suggestions:

Reach Out.  Besides checking with your employees to make sure what you need is getting done, ask them if there’s anything they need. Remote workers are typically independent, yet still may need instruction, assistance, and occasional reassurance. If you have an open door policy for your on-site staff, you could recreate that for your remote workers by setting up special e-mails or online groups where they know they can ask questions or voice concerns at any time. Even better are scheduled phone or Skype® calls that are specifically meant for them to air their concerns.

Acknowledge.  One of the benefits of remote work arrangements is being able to assess employees’ performance by results rather than the number of hours they’ve clocked. But it doesn’t mean you should withhold all feedback until their finished projects hit your desk. Without scrutinizing, recognize and applaud their progress. Encourage employees to update you, and let them know you are aware of their continuous efforts.

Get Personal.  Distance may make it impossible to treat your remote employees to birthday lunches or prevent them from attending the company’s holiday party. Birthday cards, uplifting e-mails, friendly voice messages, and even gifts through the mail will do wonders at helping remote employees feel cared for and like members of the group.

Studies indicate people work for more than just a paycheck, so their performance depends on more than financial incentives. Show your staff you value them as part of your organization, not just producers for your company, and you will go a long way to help your employee satisfaction scores. Employees who know they are appreciated will care about their work and for whom they are working. And this can do wonders for your own bottom line.