Remote Possibilities: How to Manage Employees From a Distance

Our new post on Buffer and their innovative talent management strategy got us thinking about remote employees and how you can best manage them.

The app startup company has employees all over the globe in all different time zones and it seems to be a model that works extremely well for them and has a number of benefits, but how can you effectively manage your remote employees?

It can certainly be a challenge when you have employees all over the city, the country or the globe, so we put together a list of management tips to guide you through the process a bit.

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Develop a Strong Company Culture

One of the really defining features of the Buffer talent management strategy is a specific, defined and strong corporate culture. As we mentioned in our previous post, there are 10 values that guide everything employees do at Buffer and they’re really expected to adhere and put into practice these values each and every day.

Creating a strong corporate culture and then finding ways to implement it is really going to help you have a strong and cohesive workforce regardless of where you’re located in the world.

Be An Accessible Leader

If you’re the leader of remote employees, you really become their link to the company itself and you need to be available to your employees.

Take the time to check in with employees in whatever way works best and make sure they can easily reach you when they have questions or concerns.

Try to not just communicate via email or instant messenger, but also take some time every week or month to catch up with employees over the phone or Skype to really help them feel connected to you as their leader.

Encourage Employees to Have a Set Schedule

While many bosses and leaders fear remote employees won’t do enough work, the result is much more often employees who are overworking, which can lead to frustration, burnout and a lower quality of work.

By creating a defined schedule and not expecting your employees to answer emails or phone calls when it’s the middle of the night where they are, you’re going to help them manage their time and be better employees during the hours they are meant to work.

You should really define the tone for this by setting the example. If your employees in Hong Kong see you working 24 hours a day, they’re going to feel like they have to keep up. Set your own schedule and let employees clearly know when you won’t be available and when you will, and then follow with your employees’ schedules so everyone is clear on what to expect from their coworkers.

Organize Opportunities for Face-to-Face Meetings

This can be challenging, particularly if you’re a larger organization, but it can be valuable to take a page out of Buffer’s strategy and have some sort of way for employees to get together and be with one another.

Buffer is able to arrange conferences for its 25 employees three times a year, and even if you’re not able to manage that, aiming for an event once a year can be great for morale and strengthening your company.

Use Technology

Yes, there are the basic forms of technology like email and smartphones that can help employees and managers stay connected, but if you have a remote workforce you should go beyond that. Use things like GoToMeeting, Google Drive, project management platforms, learning management systems and virtual meeting tools like Zoom.

There are so many tools at your disposal that can help you stay organized, on top of what’s happening with each of your employees and connected to one another, so take advantage. As a leader of remote employees, it’s up to you to constantly be on the lookout for new technology and tools and implement them.

November 7, 2014   Updated :March 25, 2015      

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