“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’” Brian Tracy
Last time we discussed how to remain visible while working remotely. Today let’s look at working remotely from another perspective. How can you support your team members so that they are successful as they work remotely?
More and more of us work remotely. Not everyone enjoys working remotely and not everyone is a good candidate to work remotely.
You can build a successful team by following these guidelines to put the right people in the right places. Some people should work in the office, while others really shine at working remotely.
- Select disciplined and self-motivated team members. BEFORE you place someone in the position of working remotely, be sure that they are disciplined and self-motivated. Working away from the office presents a whole new set of distractions. Especially for a worker in a home office. There is web surfing and phone calls and television and errands to run. The undisciplined worker can easily get lost. If the opportunity presents itself, have your team member start in the office. See how they do with some specific assignments, set due dates and give them independence. If they have problems meeting their goals in the office, it is likely they will have challenges meeting their goals while working remotely. This is not to say that when your team members work remotely you can ignore them. Of course not. But some people who work remotely are less likely to reach out to you than they would if they saw you in the office. YOU want to make sure that you do check in with everyone on a regular basis and of course schedule regular touch base sessions and one-on-ones. YOU do NOT want to be someone’s alarm clock and you do NOT want to have to continually remind someone of his or her responsibilities.
- Create connection. Help to build relationships between team members who are in the office and team members who are working remotely. One of the keys to the success of a virtual team is connection. Team members need to feel connected to the work, connected to you and connected to other team members. Even the most independent of remote team members needs to feel that they are not just floating around in space alone. Set up some working partnerships or small groups that include team members who work in the office and team members who work remotely. Make sure that every remote worker has someone in the office to call for information and updates aside from you. When that contact is on vacation or out for extended periods of time make sure that there is a back up. (This is why sometimes it is good to set up small work groups.) Allow team members who work in the office to have time in their day to act as the in office liaison for remote workers. Some relationships will spring up organically, but it helps if you provide the proper environment to help these relationships grow.
- Set Realistic and Consistent Expectations – One of the first arguments you might hear from someone who wants to work remotely goes something like this, “But I am so much more productive when I work from home and because I do not have to commute I work even longer hours.” This does tend to be true of the truly responsible and diligent remote team member. They want to make sure that you know that they are producing and not slacking off. Doesn’t this sound great? How can you lose? Well, you lose if your remote worker experiences burnout or feels like all of his or her effort is not being appreciated. The fact that he or she does not have a commute does not mean that time should automatically go toward work. Set clear goals and deadlines with your team members and make sure those goals and deadlines are reasonable and are the same types of goals and deadlines you set for your team members who do not work remotely. If you suspect that one of your remote team members is working too hard, encourage them to relax their pace and assure them that you do not expect them to work for you 24/7. Let them know that you are aware that they are productive and valuable.
And there you have it! Three tips that will help your remote workers experience success.