By Jon Clark, managing partner at Moving traffic media, a New York digital agency providing PPC and SEO services.
Over two decades in which he saw the growth of computer technology, management guru Peter Drucker declared that commuting to the office was “obsolete”. However, many companies – including telecommunications companies – wavered. It wasn’t until 2015 that Facebook moved into its new physical offices in California with the “largest open floor plan in the world”.
Just five years later, Facebook permanently switched half of its workforce to remote work. Other companies have taken the same path and followed suit, but there are many frustrating challenges. Recruiting and onboarding new employees, monitoring performance, creating your own corporate culture, and ensuring effective communication are some of the issues executives grapple with in the remote era.
To remotely and successfully complete these tasks, remote employee executives should consider the following:
Effective remote worker recruitment
In the virtual world where there are no physical interactions and personal reviews, how can you attract the best talent to your business? And even if you find the best people, how can you get them involved and help them fit in quickly?
The first step is to improve your online presence and image. A serious employee will evaluate a position at a company with a good online brand and eventually apply. Your online image should also give a glimpse into the life and culture of the company. You can do this by creating public birthday messages for your employees or posting pictures of employee awards. Companies can also rate potential employees by rating their virtual person through their social media pages.
Before you come to the interview, you should have a thorough understanding of tools like Teams and Zoom. Or, you might want to use software that helps assess body language or scan eye contact for useful feedback.
Finally, before onboarding new employees, consider hiring two or more remote workers than you will need for a paid trial period. The best solution for your team will likely emerge from this trial period.
Global remote talent on board
New remote workers may initially feel lost during onboarding. Presumably they come from different cultural contexts. There is sure to be misunderstanding and confusion. As a new employee, it can be difficult to break new ground without knowing the work schedule or the new work environment. Regardless of whether you lead a remote or hybrid team, you should plan virtual opt-in tours through the remote workstations of the employees.
Training remote teams in the technological infrastructure to work online is an obvious necessity, as is information about the role of each and who can help with what. In his book Leading from everywhere Business and leadership writer David Burkus is advocating creating a common identity through the deliberate use of terms like “team” or “crew” that can help build strong connections.
Monitor your remote team’s performance
It is almost a dictum that managers should monitor the performance of remote workers in order to lead virtual teams and keep them productive. The idea that executives may not even need to monitor performance in the virtual workplace – in the traditional sense of output – is therefore almost revolutionary. For many managers, performance means output: the number of hours worked and so on. However, there is a compelling argument among business thought leaders that managers should abandon results monitoring in favor of results monitoring.
Consider the findings of HR expert Tara Bethell, who, according to the HR Daily Advisor, says, “I don’t care about these things [hours and schedules]. What is important to me are results. “
Effective communication with remote workers
The author and former President’s speechwriter, James Humes, is credited with saying, “The art of communication is the language of leadership”. However, when you are a leader and lead a team from anywhere, few tasks are as important and difficult as communicating in the remote work ecosystem. It is clear that communicating expectations is particularly important.
Entrepreneur Mark Watson III offers the following smart suggestions:
• “Making synchronous time valuable”: When working remotely, it is difficult to find the time that fits the schedules of employees and managers at the same time. It is therefore unwise to waste time on aimless chatter and things of no business value.
• “Virtual meetings have to be focused and short”: Short, crisp meetings that help teams identify their goals are advisable and effective. The leader should leave it up to the team to decide how to achieve their goals. Subsequent discussions should not focus on “What did you do today?” rather “Are you there?” or “Do you have any challenges?”
• “Use a call when you need it”: Instead of waiting for a Zoom meeting or writing long emails, executives should know when to pick up the phone and make inquiries or follow up.
Remote team culture, engagement, and revenue
Culture is a tough nut to crack with remote working. Because culture often depends on common activities. However, there are ways to forge or maintain the corporate culture in the remote work environment. Occasional physical meetings or team get-togethers can be an option for your remote team. Companies can also create chat channels in which everything is formal and informal is free to share, and leaders should also explore the various ideas and options for shared virtual team building activities.
Engagement is encouraged when managers exercise humility and deal with employees in an understanding manner in order to build strong teams. Build teams that get involved by:
• Equipping employees with the necessary infrastructure to get the job done.
• Promotion of vertical and horizontal dialogues.
• Increased employee recognition initiatives.
Finally, I agree with David Burkus’ argument that turnover isn’t always a bad thing and that leaders shouldn’t feel betrayed. It’s all part of change and growth.
As we move into the new dispersed global economy, these remote executive tips can go a long way in helping your business grow.