It is estimated that somewhere between 20 and 30 million Americans work from home at least one day per week. With our increasingly global economy and enhanced technological capabilities, this number is sure to increase as the years go on. As a result, more and more managers are being expected to supervise employees working remotely. If you are one of those managers, read on for some best practices.
First, when hiring someone who wishes to work remotely, it is especially important to be sure that they understand and are skilled at the work they will be doing. One suggestion on how to determine this would be to provide a potential hire with a sample project to work on that you will factor into your final decision along with their interview.
Next, understand that just because an employee is working elsewhere doesn’t mean you can’t see them in person. It is a reasonable request to ask an employee to come into the office on occasion, especially for important all-hands meetings. For smaller team meetings, try using Skype or a web conferencing platform that will allow your team to all see each other during the meeting. If the office is planning to head out to dinner or a happy hour one day, don’t forget to invite your remote employees along for a more informal opportunity to get to know their coworkers.
Finally, remember that it is important to check in with your remote employees regularly. While those who work from home may genuinely enjoy the ability to work independently, that doesn’t mean that they do not need guidance and direction from their supervisor to get the job done right. When you are speaking with your remote employees, you don’t have to be strictly business. In fact, it is perfectly OK to ask them questions you would ask anyone else around the office in an attempt to connect, such how their weekend was or how they enjoyed their recent vacation.