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In today’s globally-connected world, hiring remote workers has never been easier. Remote options allow companies to expand the talent pool and hire top employees for positions. Remote workers also have greater flexibility in their roles, which translates to a much happier workforce. However, balancing productivity and flexibility is equally important for business and companies to have to take extra measures to cultivate a productive remote environment. The following are a few tips that can help manage your remote workers.

Use Video Conferencing As Much As You Can

More than half of all forms of communication are non-verbal. Body language plays a huge role in how we communicate, and it is essential to building rapport in conversation as well as building relationships. Remote workers do not always get the opportunity to come to the office for a meeting or a quick conversation.

Using video conferencing whenever possible helps communicate both the verbal and non-verbal cues that make up conversations and build relationships. Choosing the right video conferencing technology is essential to a successful platform as well. You want your video conferencing technology used for formal and informal meetings as well as quick conversations and collaborations between remote workers. Once you have a video conferencing system in place, encourage your remote and home office employees to use the system to help build relationships.

Encourage “Water Cooler” Chat

Home office employees make time for small talk, whether it is in passing each other in the hallways or before and after team meetings. Small talk is essential to building relationships and connecting over means other than work. One of the biggest drawbacks remote worker face is the inability to engage in small talk among fellow employees. However, using instant messaging systems and encouraging employees to exchange non-work related banter can significantly improve relationships among remote workers.

Have In-Person Meetings At Least Once a Year

Managing multiple office locations can be difficult, especially when you want to get everyone together. Despite the cost, it is essential to have face-to-face meetings at least once a year. Meeting face-to-face doesn’t always have to be for work purposes. Annual holiday parties or social events can draw people together and build strong relationships within your workforce just as well as annual conferences. If you decide to hold annual meetings, make sure you make time for socializing.

Be Creative in Your Text Communications

Text communications, either by email, instant messaging, or SMS text, is a naturally vague and sometimes confusing form of communication; especially when you are not entirely familiar with your conversation partner. Luckily, emoji’s, GIFs, and other social-media-speak can help us better convey the meaning behind the words. Even though these tools seem unprofessional or childish at times, assigning an emotion or feeling to a message can significantly improve our understanding as well as build a natural rapport between conversing partners by breaking down the barriers of communication.

Hold Stand-up Meetings

Stand-up meetings, also known as fireside chats, are perfect examples of how you can bring your employees together to share ideas and be heard. Typically, these meetings are done standing up and encourage discussion where the team can pointedly share ideas and feedback. Your stand-up meetings can and should include your remote workers. Giving your offsite employees a voice among the teams encourages collaboration and productivity.
Including your remote workers in stand-up meetings can be difficult, especially if people are located far off site and have to travel in. Instead, you can easily use video conferencing for these meetings. Among the several unique ways to use video conferencing, holding team meetings where everyone has an opportunity to express themselves verbally as well as being seen is important. But video conferencing can take stand-up communication to the next level through screen shares where participants can use visual aids to communicate their message further.

Managing your remote workers is a delicate balance between respecting their autonomy and keeping them accountable for their productivity. But demanding that remote workers check-in or provide status reports more often than your on-site employees can sour your talent. If you have or plan on developing a remote option for your current or future employees, you will have to create a mutually beneficial model that allows for the best possible collaboration between team members, staff, and management that is both inclusive and respectful.