As communication technology advances, the world becomes much smaller, which in turn makes talent pools larger – provided organizations are willing to embrace remote employees.
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Many companies successfully rely on workers across town, across the country, or even across the world to grow their businesses. Will this work for your company? The answer largely depends on you, your industry, and how you approach your remote workforce.
For example, I once worked for someone who was adamantly against remote workers. Years before, he'd had an employee who didn't have the discipline to work from a home office. This employee spent less and less time every day actually working. Eventually, the employee's performance was so poor that he was fired. The employer assumed that productivity fell because work was being done from home, rather than considering that this particular employee was simply not suited for remote work.
As a remote worker, I'm convinced there are many jobs that can be successfully tackled outside the office. If a business owner takes the right approach, they can take advantage of talent outside of their immediate vicinity. Despite my former boss's bias against remote workers, there's really no reason to be concerned about adding remote workers to your company.
Here are four things you can do to ensure that your remote workers, and your business, are successful:
1. Don't Let 'Out of Sight' Become 'Out of Mind'
Email, chat, and teleconferencing technologies make it easy to communicate with employees anywhere in the world, but setting aside the time to regularly communicate can be a challenge. Think about all the impromptu meetings and conversations that take place with the employees you see every day in the office!
Spending 30 minutes to an hour every week in personal conversation with your remote workers is time well spent and will help you build productive relationships with your remote workforce.
2. Remember: Email and Chat Can't Convey Body Language
A 1971 study found that 55 percent of communication is body language. Unfortunately, chat and email – the main methods for communicating with remote workers – can't convey this body language. As a result, certain nuances of communication can be lost. For example, sarcasm doesn't translate well in text – an experience we've all had.
When drafting emails or other written communications, it's important to make sure you communicate what you intend to communicate. Be especially clear about your messages. Remember that you can't rely on body language to convey your tone or any additional nuances. Spell it all out.
3. Use Live Video to Foster Connection
Video chat might not replace in-person communication entirely, but it's the next best thing. As mentioned above, body language and tone of voice are important parts of effectively communicating, and video chat allows you to convey these things in ways that text-based communication does not.
4. Don't Underestimate the Value of Periodic In-Person Communication
Although a lot can be done with today's communication technology, there are times when face-to-face conversation is important. How often you have face time with remote workers will depend on a lot of factors, but in my opinion, monthly in-person meetups are a good idea. I would recommend quarterly at the very least.
In-person meetings are important for a number of reasons. They allow for collaboration and discussion and give remote workers an opportunity to build relationships with one another and with the non-remote members of the team.
Successfully managing a remote workforce requires you take a few unique considerations, but the ability to access talent from anywhere in the world can be worth the effort.
Will remote employees work for you and your business? You need to consider that for yourself as you weigh the value of potentially finding the best talent to help your business grow and thrive.