The modern office is more than four walls and a parking lot. With the help of technology, a team can reach all corners of the world and still connect in order to create a product or service that helps a company reach its goals. Of course, collaborating with remote employees is a pretty novel endeavor. There is plenty of room for miscommunications and hiccups that can stall a project’s progress. When working with remote employees, it’s best to anticipate possible issues before they come up so you know how to address them just in case.
Here is some of our favorite advice on mistakes to avoid when working with remote employees.
1. Not Having an Onboarding Process
Your onboarding process sets the tone for every employee and informs them of your goals and expectations as a project manager. It also gives you the opportunity to lay out any organizational tips you wish to pass on to help with operations. When you are working with a large team in various places, you may not all be on the same page at all times. But if you have a steady and consistent onboarding process, you can at least make sure all remote workers are reading the same book.
2. Letting Them Wing It
Anyone who has gotten in an argument over text messages knows how miscommunications through technology are possible. When it comes to managing remote workers, the more structure and communication you can provide them, the better. Instead of telling them what you want and letting them wing it, you are better off telling them what you want, when you want it, and the steps you need them to take in order to accomplish said task.
3. Ignoring Time Zones
It’s easy to forget that the people on the other side of the screen are just that… people. When you ignore time zones and demand crazy hours from remote employees, you are more likely to get haphazard results from resentful employees. If you aren’t willing to wait 24 hours for a response from a remote worker, you are better off finding someone in a time zone that is no more than 2 hours different than yours.
Wait… but didn’t we just tell you to give them step-by-step instructions on what to get done? Being thorough with your project direction and micromanaging are not the same things. People hire remote workers as a way to delegate more nitty gritty work to qualified professionals so they get to focus on the big picture. If you are spending too much time instructing your remote team on every second of their processes, you are neglecting to truly take advantage of their talent. As a project manager, it is up to you to find the right balance between giving enough instruction and being too hands-on.
5. Separating On-Campus and Remote Staff
Even if you have only a handful of remote employees, your team won’t work at its highest capacity if they do not feel included. Make sure there is open communication between everyone involved. Do not separate your general instructions based on who lives where. It may also help to have everyone run through a team building exercise once or twice a month to help build cohesiveness and improve communication.
6. Not Offering Incentives
Managers often use incentives as a way to encourage team members to go the extra mile to reach company goals. Just because you have team members working remotely doesn’t mean they should be exempt from such rewards.
7. Being Too Casual
When you work in IT or development, there is a general relaxed atmosphere that comes with the territory. When you communicate via calls or chat, it is easy to let that relaxation turn into overt casualness. Remember: you are a leader and this is a business. As a project manager, you still have to exude an overall professional demeanor in order to demand respect.
At Number 8, we help companies connect with qualified remote employees to help with nearshore software development. We also focus on helping companies improve their internal IT processes. If you’re interested in learning more about Number8 and what we do, give us a call at (502) 890-7665, or check out our information page here!