Do you want remote employees to get more done? Keep them out of needless
e-mail loops, don’t require their presence at so many meetings, and
discuss how much social media is appropriate while they are “at work.”
You might also articulate how and when status reports will be submitted.
In summary, employ good communication and build trust. The tools are secondary; emotional and engagement gaps are deadly.EMPLOYEES MUST CHANGE
way that employees think about work must change, too. Encourage them to
shower and get dressed as if they are going to work. That helps them
get in a different frame of mind, and it also makes a better impression
They should take breaks, certainly, but be brutally
honest about what distracts them (social media, eating, TV, etc.).
Somehow find the right amount of distraction (an open window, music,
etc.), but regardless of that, they should be working in an isolated
part of their home where noise will not intrude.
When everyone is
giving a report, start with the remote folks to give them more presence
in the call. Don’t allow them to be discounted; they should be engaged,
have a point of view and be a thought leader to the rest of the
Make sure that remote workers follow the same
information processes, avoiding an oral culture, especially when it may
be difficult to reach them; set goals, direction and priorities and make
them easily known. Figure out a way to instantly and constantly let
others know if they are available, by phone, e-mail or instant
messaging.SETTING UP AN EMPLOYEE TO SUCCEED
that employees hired as telecommuters at the outset go through three
days of on-site orientation, mixing it up with as many people as
possible. (It may help to hook them up with a “buddy” for that time.)
The most critical element is to ensure that they absorb the culture.
Preferably, and especially if you have many remote employees, there can
be a special arrangement with a long-stay hotel so that telecommuters
can stay and work in the main office the first two weeks of their
employment, and then a week at a time twice per year. If there isn’t
enough face time, there will not be the undercurrent of trust and
While at the mother ship, they should wander the halls,
meet different people over meals, engage in conversations and make
themselves very apparent and heard. Also, make sure they are introduced
to the IT department, who will be supporting them remotely.
every day with a conference call. Establish specific goals for each
day, and then reporting structures to ensure that they are met.
days should be set aside to do lots of little things and to gather what
they’ll need to get the really big things done, and then some days
should be set aside to do nothing but the big things. Limit disruptions
of their time on those days.
Keep current with the tools that
might help you (e.g., The Next Web
). Make the right tools available,
like a virtual chat room and GoToMeeting
, and have an Internet-based
workflow data center like Basecamp
employees should have a separate phone line (even if it’s a mobile) with
a professional sounding e-mail message so that direct client calls are
Institute good backup procedures with a
remote service in the cloud, and establish the ability to access
company-owned computers from the home office.
Consider a standup desk that can change heights just to give them more variety.
Help them with time-management tools, like the entire GTD (getting things done) movement or the Pomodoro technique.
remind your remote employees that they won’t have a commute during
which to unwind. Instead suggest doing an errand or taking a quick walk
around the block after they are done for the day.GETTING FACE TO FACE OCCASIONALLY
remote employees visit the home office, find ways to combine it with
already-planned social times with the entire employee group.
noted above, remote employees should spend a week at a time at the home
office at least twice per year. You might even visit employees on their
turf once in awhile when you are doing business in that area.
they do come to the home office, have a special office where visiting
remote employees can work, preferably nearby lots of other employee
traffic so that they can chat and get to know people.PREPARING THE COMPANY TO SUCCEED
Whatever shape your remote-work arrangement takes, make it a part of the employee interview to set appropriate expectations.
you have remote employees, invest extra time in interpersonal skill
development as an entire team. That might include personality profile
work (the best is DiSC PPSS).
And whenever you do let an existing
employee begin working remotely, start with a one-month trial period to
see how it works for both parties. After they get established, swap
team members around from time to time to keep the company culture