Anyone who works outside of a traditional office is considered a remote worker. In the five years I’ve worked remotely, I have developed a few opinions on the matter. There are plenty of lists with advice for you if you work remotely; but here is some advice if you lead or work closely with a remote worker.
1. “Worker” is in the title. This might seem obvious, but the world is not short of people who believe that a remote worker’s day consists of long naps and romps in the park. While we may indulge in those things every once in a while, we do work. I cannot pick up your dry cleaning for you or sit with your dog. Ok, maybe I can, but don’t ask!
2. Rate outcomes not hours. While this may not work for those remote workers who get paid on an hourly basis, for most of us this is imperative. Often, I can accomplish more before 9 AM than others can do in a full workday. If we evaluate hours, everyone loses. First be as clear as possible about goals and roles. Then, provide rigorous and meaningful work and concern yourself with whether or not the work is getting done.
3. Why the early video call? Many people believe that remote workers should dress for the workday to keep the routine of getting ready for the office. If you schedule a video conference at 6 AM, be sure there’s a business need. Otherwise, I wasted valuable time getting ready for nothing. I may as well sit in traffic if I can’t use my time more wisely.
4. Regular check-ins are nice. There are days when I speak to absolutely no one. Imagine it is a project or writing day: no mail gets delivered, no external meetings or video calls, etc. The whole day could pass without one word being spoken. While some reflection time is good, for remote workers, the standard check-in conversation is even more important. It provides an opportunity to check status, ensure alignment, uncover obstacles, and simply check in.
5. Hold face-to-face meetings at an agreed upon cadence. For my small business, I meet in-person with remote staff about once every two months. In these working sessions, we do many of the same things that we would do over the phone, but we like each other so getting together is good sometimes. If you don’t like your co-workers I’m not sure I have any advice for that.
6. Role evaluation is required. Before deciding whether or not work can be done remotely, evaluate the work. For example: if the work doesn’t require face-to-face interaction, consider allowing remote working conditions. Sometimes organizations get stuck, and universally reverse remote working options because work is not getting done.
7. You still have to lead. Coaching is still part of your role and the nature of performance suggests that the “Inside Out” approach which focuses on the goal, realities, options, and way forward (GROW) is still the way to drive consistent, high performance.