5 Ways to Make Remote Employees Feel Included

 John Tie
  Jul 24, 2018

Remote employees- To have or not to have is no more the question! (Sorry Bill, couldn’t help it!) But it’s true. Remote employees are as much a part and parcel of business as pretty much anything else. The novelty has long worn off. Businesses across the spectrum are making use of the concept to access talent and resources locally unavailable, or too expensive.

However, while the concept of the remote employee has become well entrenched in the American business lexicon, people are still figuring out the creature called “remote employee”. For most business owners and in-house employees, the remote employee is a semi metallic voice on the phone or a face on Skype. Barring exceptional circumstances, the business owners or the in-house employees will never get to meet the remote employee. This creates a sort of detachment on both sides. Mind you, if it was a traditional vendor, things would have been different. However, the remote employee works in and reports to the same structure that is there for other employees. This is the most unique aspect of remote employment, the fact that it is employment, not a client based project only. Hence the virtual worker has very different expectations, as does the employer/client- which in this case is you. Skillful management of personnel is a necessity in business, and the same applies to remote employment.

Here are a few simple tips to make your remote employee/s feel included.

1. Always communicate

One of the biggest issues confronting a remote team is communication with the client. Out here, the client needs to be a bit pro-active. Regular communication through Skype, emails, video conferencing etc. will ensure that your remote team is in sync with your vision and the project is always on track. It will also provide an avenue for the remote team to voice their concerns as they come along and you can have a chance to nip potentially damaging situations in the bud. Further, through video conferencing, you are effectively putting a face to your voice, which makes it easier for someone sitting thousands of miles away to identify with you and the project.

2. Provide guidance and recognize achievements

Your remote employee looks up to you for guidance, support and leadership, not unlike your in-house employee would. That also means, that just like a regular employee, your remote employee looks for recognition when he/she has done a good job as a professional. Recognition might be just in the form of an encouraging email, or a simple “Well done!” over the phone call. Trust me when I say this, such recognition goes a long way into making your virtual worker loyal and extra committed to the task at hand. I have seen many examples where a remote professional is readily willing to go the extra mile and get the work done for the client, without the expectation of any extra perks. But for that to happen, there needs to be a robust relationship that you must build with your remote employee through timely guidance, recognition of his/her work and constant communication.

3. Encourage ownership of your brand

At the end of the day, remote employment is ensured through a vendor and technically, all remote workers are employed by the vendor on your behalf. However, since they are reporting to you and more often than not dedicated to your project only, you should try and encourage the remote employees to consider your brand or organization as their own. How does one do that? Simple. Encourage, respect and implement the ideas flowing from their side as well. In most projects, your remote employee is following your brief. However, there will always be scope for improvement and fresh ideas. Encourage your remote employees to think and come up with ideas and suggestions. Consult them, as you would do your regular employees, while dealing with a crisis or facing a challenge. This will not only make the remote worker feel included, it will also help you come up with better solutions. Remember, these remote employees that you have hired are experts in their domain with a lot of experience. That they would have quick and practical solutions to challenges is only natural. Further, they will start feeling as a genuine part your company and start taking full ownership.

4. Visit your remote employees

If your project is a long one, and you have engaged a fairly large team offshore to execute the project, it is always a good idea to schedule periodic visits. This will give you an opportunity to bond with your remote workers, while also allowing your employees to know you. You can check out the facilities yourself and make sure that the facilities are exactly as promised. Visiting personally also allows you to assess the vendor in regards to data security management, technologies used and on ground environment. Are these as promised to you, or are they falling short anywhere? Remember, you are not just paying for professionals, but the payment also must ensure that peripherals are also ship-shape.

5. Respect local customs

Since your remote team is offshore, the thousands of miles doesn’t just ensure a difference in time zones, it also means that you are dealing with people from a whole other culture. That means, your remote employees will have different customs, a slightly different work culture, expectations and off course holidays.

Now since most outsource to India, and the huge Indian diaspora globally, certain Indian festivals are now global phenomenons. For instance festivals like Diwali- the festival of lights, and Holi- the festival of colors. However, apart from that, Indians would prefer not to work on their Independence Day, their Constitution Day (called Republic Day in India) and on festivals like Eid. (India has the worlds second largest population of Muslims), Dushera etc. Similarly, Chinese have a no work policy during their new year celebrations, Malaysians like to take the day off at the start of Ramadan and off course on Eid. Conversely, your remote employees will be more than happy to work on the 4th of July, Halloween etc.

You need to be a bit smart and work out a slightly different schedule to accommodate the cultural differences between your team in say Boston and your team in say Bangalore. Respecting the other person’s culture goes a long way in making him/her feel respected and included. And 4 to 5 days in a year is hardly a tall ask. However, if you absolutely must insists on your remote resource working on a local festival or holiday, please ensure that you explain it properly and offer special perks for doing so.

A bit of respect, a bit of recognition, a bit of familiarity- really that’s all!

Humans are essentially alike, despite cultural and social differences. Team management depends on the same mantras everywhere. You just have to tweak it and be versatile to get the best out of you remote employee. If you manage to heed to all the points mentioned above, your experience of hiring remote employees can be a very rewarding one. Not only are you saving a lot of money, you are also tapping a talent pool which will otherwise be beyond you locally. And a little “Googling” and online research about different cultures is a small price to pay for the successful execution of your project.

5 Ways to Make Remote Employees Feel Included

John Tie

I am working as a Digital Marketer and content strategist with Virtual Employee, one of the leading Outsourcing Company. I am a versatile tech writer and loves exploring the latest technology trends, entrepreneur, and startup column.

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