Telecommuting has become an accepted practice in today’s corporate environment. In fact, Gallup cites that 37 percent of workers in the United States worked from home in 2015. The same study showed that the average worker telecommutes two days a month, and that most telecommuters are as productive as other employees.
Despite becoming a widely accepted arrangement in the business world, telecommute can still pose challenges particularly for supervisors or managers particularly those who are used to seeing their workers report to work in the office on a daily basis.
Remote working may work well for bigger companies who employees usually have a focused role. But it may not suit a small firm which usually gives multitude of tasks and assignments to its staff.
If you’re one of those managers or supervisors who aren’t used to supervising remote workers, here are some tips on how to communicate with employees working in different locations:
1. Be careful when sending emails
While the email is one of the fastest means of sending messages to a remote worker, it also has its weaknesses. One drawback is that it can be easy to misinterpret an email message.
One of the best ways how to communicate with employees who are working remotely is to avoid sending email messages when you are stressed or annoyed. When communicating with remote workers, re-read your emails before sending them. This would prevent you from sending messages that can be misinterpreted by your staff.
Experts agree that it is not ideal to send emails when someone is stressed or angry. Hence when you are in a bad mood, try to calm down first before engaging with your team members.
2. Communicate with a staff member at least once a day
There’s a tendency for remote employees to slack off because they are out of sight of their superiors. You can guard against that tendency by speaking to a remote staff member at least once a day. You can do it in the morning by reminding the telecommuter about deliverables to be accomplished for the day. Or you can do it before the end of the shift, to get updates from his end.
But you should not over-communicate with your remote workers. This is one of the best ways how to communicate with employees in remote areas because over-communicating can only cut too much of the worker’s time. It can also be viewed as micromanaging. Worse, the employee may be distracted and this could affect his inputs.
3. Choose the right communication tool
E-mails aren’t the only way to communicate with a remote employee. There are other communication tools that you can harness to reach out to members of your team who are working away from the office, like instant messaging and text messages. But you should also choose a communication tool depending on circumstances.
For example, time-sensitive information can be relayed through instant messaging or by phone. This would allow you to confirm immediately whether your staff has received the message.
An email, on the other hand, is the ideal choice for sending complex instructions as your recipient can save, print, or re-read it as needed. If you are to deliver confidential information, do it the old way which is through a phone call.
4. Always be available
Finally be available to support your remote employees all the time, if that is possible. Make sure that everybody in your team knows how and when to contact you.
Managing a team of geographically divided workers isn’t a tall order these days. These tips on how to communicate with employees working in different locations should help you get the most out of your staff.