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5 Ways to Engage and Connect With Your Remote Employees

Kathleen Beddoes

Tue, 13 Jul, 2021


Kathleen Beddoes

  • Reading Time:
    ~ 4 minutes

Employers and managers alike find themselves learning the intricacies of virtual working relationships as more transition to temporary or full-time remote working. And with change, comes new challenges.

Something that may surprise you is simple communication with one’s manager and the larger team does create anxiety in most people.  

In order to reduce this, and find solutions, we compiled a list of questions and concerns that are common in a remote relationship. A conversation template was designed for managers and remote employees to review when an employee in the office goes remote or a new remote employee is hired. 

With the help of this document, the employee can elaborate on facets of the remote relationship with their manager in a collaborative conversation. 

Here’s what it looks like: 

Communication:

Communication can easily fall through the cracks when you lose the ability to physically turn to the teammate next to you. The key to success is effective communication, and this starts from the beginning when setting expectations and being intentional. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your preferred communication style (channel, format)?
  • How often will we be in touch?
  • Is this a scheduled time or is it only scheduled if necessary?
  • In an emergency, how will we communicate?
  • To get support, what channels will be available to the remote employee?
  • Would the time zone change if they moved?
  • In the event that the manager is unavailable, to whom will the remote employee turn to?
  • Does our communication have a service level agreement?
  • Is there a way to identify when and how the other might be under pressure/ or stressed? 
  • What are the best ways to communicate during these times? 
  • How and when would we like to receive feedback, and on what topics? 

Work Hours:

Most of us step away from our desks occasionally to run, pick up a coffee, or run errands at the office. As a remote employee, you can feel a certain pressure to be available 24/7, but it’s not a surprise that they want and need to do the same. Because of this, we encourage employees and their managers to discuss these points to avoid any misunderstandings.

  • Do we have to check in online at specific times and be available to each other? 
  • Does it make any sense to let people know when we’re offline? 
  • If so, will we implement any specific format (eg: a calendar block)?
  • Can a remote worker maintain standard business hours in their time zone if they move to a different time zone or does the manager’s schedule apply?
  • What is the most appropriate way for the employee to track their hours?
  • If an employee is sick or needs a mental health day, how should they communicate this? 

Productivity & Performance:

Often, working remotely can involve sitting in front of a laptop for more than 8 hours a day. Ensure you’re balancing productivity in a healthy way by following these suggestions.

  • Performance will be measured by what metrics and results?
  • When is the employee not meeting expectations?
  • Is there any other way that a manager expects his or her workers to show that they are progressing?
  • Where will the employee work (at home, in a co-working space, in a coffee shop)? 
  • Do certain scenarios require a private location (for example, customers must make calls from a private location for security reasons)?

Connecting as a Team:

Inclusion must be everyone’s responsibility if it is to be effective. Discuss these questions with your team to ensure everyone is actively engaged in assisting the team to be remote-inclusive.

  • Can we use video for both team and individual meetings?
  • We want to make sure our remote employees are able to participate in team meetings. How will we ensure that? 
  • Would it be better if they jumped in on their own or if they were called on?
  • Can everyone sign in on their laptops and participate in a “remote” meeting?
  • Are there any ways we can create a sense of trust and camaraderie within the team?
  • Is there a plan for team lunches/dinners/outings?
  • What are the steps that the remote employee needs to take for communication with new team members?
  • Our remote employees need support, so how will we as a team commit to it?
  • What are the ways that remote employees will be a resource or leader to other team members?
  • Is Slack the right channel for our team?
  • What will we do to make sure that remote team members are aware of floor discussions?

Connections & Career Growth

Our goal is to ensure remote employees don’t become isolated within their teams and departments by asking the following questions to strategize how they might collaborate cross-functionally.

  • What departments and individuals will the remote employee be working with?
  • How will they develop relationships with these stakeholders?
  • In what ways will our remote employees be kept in the loop about company news and updates?
  • What programs and groups are the employees interested in or engaged in and how will they participate once remote? 
  • Where will the employee go to network from a remote location?
  • What will the manager do to support these efforts?
  • What career goals does the employee have? 
  • Together, how can we nurture and support this?

Every manager and employee will answer these questions differently depending on their work styles, communication styles, role, metrics, and even the makeup of the team. Because of this, we don’t dictate a particular answer or try to steer respondents in any direction. At the end of the day, it’s more about the discussion than the answers – what matters most is that they examined the possible outcomes and together came to an agreement on what action to take on each scenario as they occur.

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