How to Manage Your Virtual Employees

virtual-employeeThe nature of employment has changed. Most small businesses are no longer centralized in one location, but instead have their employees work from all over the world. To ensure that this is effective, a new style of management needs to be implemented to maximize the performance of these virtual employees. The isolation of a remote employee from a company and culture is very real and needs to be specifically addressed. It should include:

  1. Well-defined goals and objectives that can be tracked. What metrics can be implemented to define what success for that employee looks like? This is particularly important for employees that can’t be “seen” everyday or those from a different country culture. For sales people it’s easy to define, but for customer service or development employees, it is more difficult.
  2. Provide the necessary tools to work remotely. These employees may need additional solutions that centrally located employees do not. This includes a video camera, smartphone and reliable remote access to all secure office applications.
  3. Check in with the employee by phone or video chat often. Text chat or email is effective for some tasks, but it does not establish the personal connection that is required. Video will force the manager to focus on being with that employee.
  4. Set up in person meetings at least once a year. (Twice is better.) There is still nothing that replaces in person meetings for establishing the best working relationship. Once an in person relationship is started, it is much easier to work together remotely. Annual meetings where all employees see each other in one location is also critical for morale.
  5. Always over communicate. Give more feedback to a virtual employees than anyone that works in the same office. Remember that working remotely, they are isolated physcially and emotionally. This attention will ensure that they feel they have the manager’s attention and are more likely to remain on task.
  6. Make sure they feel a part of the company. The manager needs to think about how they extend their company’s culture outside a physical location. This can include monthly virtual events for all remote and centralized employees.

How have you changed your management style to work with virtual employees?

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Barry Moltz helps small business owners get unstuck. He is an author, motivational speaker and consultant. Barry can be found at www.barrymoltz.com

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