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Top 5 Tips for Managing in a Remote Work Environment

July 28, 2020, by Corina Sibley | Work Environment and Policies

Many employers have found benefits to having their employees work remotely in this pandemic environment and are considering remote work options as a permanent fixture going forward for some if not most of their employees, such as Google and Indeed.  As a small company that has been virtual since day 1 and now into our 10th year, here are our top 5 tips for successfully managing in a remote work environment.

1. Hire for Fit

Not everyone we have hired has fit our corporate culture.  Some had a hard time transitioning to a virtual office environment.  We’ve learned from those experiences and now ensure that a large part of our interviewing and vetting process includes the “fit” aspect.  We get many referrals from our associates from candidates that are interested in joining our organization.  If they are making a transition out of the corporate work world we offer them the opportunity to chat with one of our associates even before any interviews take place so they can better understand how we operate and what they need to know about a virtual work environment.  It is important they understand the major differences and what kind of a paradigm shift it requires. 

2.  Formal orientation

We provide new associates with formal training on our technology platforms such as our timesheet system, collaboration tools, MS Teams, etc.  We also provide them with the history of HR à la carte, why we started the business, what our values are, etc.  Training on ethics in the consulting world rounds out our orientation program.  As we grow we continually add to our program, and also ask our associates for feedback on their initial integration and what we can improve upon.

3.  Communication is Key

Whether it’s a weekly check-in call, team call or just picking up the phone and chatting, we need to continually communicate.  MS Team chats and calls, email, text and phone all help us stay connected.  We instituted and launched MS Teams for our company last summer and it has proven to be a tremendous asset in keeping our associates engaged and helping them collaborate on projects. 

4.  Feedback is Real-Time in the Moment

We don’t believe in letting things fester.  Coaching in the moment and providing effective feedback is especially important when your associates are self-managed to a large extent. We also believe in lots of positive feedback.  As we have done this from the very beginning we have created a culture of recognition; our associates also give each other positive feedback for a job well done.  It has helped us build a strong sense of belonging, ownership and doing things for the good of the team and the company.   We love it when we see associates treating HR à la carte like it’s their own company and coming up with ideas to make things simpler, faster and more efficient.

5.  Create occasions to get together in person

Of course, in a pandemic environment this is not as easily manageable.  We have had an annual in-person get together that we host for all associates.  It involves a lunch, the occasional presentation, updates on the company and what’s coming down the pipeline, as well as the opportunity to get to know each other better and network with the colleagues we work with all year over the phone, email and MS Teams.  Everyone looks forward to it and it’s something we hope to do more often.  We will have to move these events virtually in the meantime.  I’ve heard of other companies hosting virtual happy hours, virtual team lunches, etc. as their way of getting together and keeping the fun in their work.

Even after all this time as a virtual company we are still learning new methods and technologies to keep and stay connected.  So far, our experiment has been successful.  With the creativity, enthusiasm and willingness to try new things we have on our team, we will continue to experiment and grow.

How have you stayed connected with your remote employees?  What has worked for you?

This blog has been updated from our original blog published in August 2017

Other articles of interest

The Advantages of Going Virtual

What Motivates Employees in a Telecommuting Environment

6 Must Have Coaching Skills for the Successful Manager

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