Managing and Training Remote Employees

connect remote employees

By: Amanda Moore, Chief Product Officer

When I started DemandZEN, my partner and I decided we wanted one of our company’s core values to be to provide a family-friendly, flexible environment for all employees. It was that decision that led us to give everyone the option to work remotely. A team made entirely of remote employees is a challenge, but allows us to provide a unique benefit to our entire team, one that is too rare in today’s workplace.

We believe this core value of being “family friendly” is a benefit many people want and need in the today’s world of fast-paced deadlines and hectic schedules because the workforce has changed. Telework is not only very attractive to the younger workforce but also to busy parents and those who live in an area where commuting is costly and time-consuming. In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) recently reported that remote employees will account for almost three-quarters of the workforce by 2020. Instead of looking for job titles, more and more people are looking for a great culture and flexibility.

We truly love being able to balance our work and home lives but, despite the advantages, our commitment to flexibility and telework comes with challenges, and we are constantly evolving how we train and manage remote employees. What have we learned so far? Here, I’ll share my two most important lessons.

Trust, but verify

First and foremost, we’ve learned to “trust, but verify”— a process that involves relinquishing any tendency to micro-manage and control, while putting systems in place that hold employees accountable for their work and deliverables. This methodology applies to all areas of our company: the hours and time at which employees work, what tools they utilize, and how well we communicate (and employees understand) the duties, training, and expectations that come with each position.

The need to “trust, but verify” became obvious early on, when a new employee came to my home office for training with what he described as a “fully functioning laptop.” Upon arrival, I realized his computer was actually outdated and inoperable — and that he relied instead on the limited functionality of an iPad to do his work. The lack of a keyboard left him typing everything on the small touchscreen, and the inability to pull up multiple screens created a long list of inefficiencies that wouldn’t work for the job at hand.

As cliché as it sounds, we have to ensure our employees have access to the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, because they may not realize that we can help or that there’s a problem. By making sure we stay involved and “trust, but verify,” we are able to develop a solid working relationship built on mutual respect and support.

 

connect remote employees

To keep remote employees engaged, you must bridge the gap between them, their role and colleagues.

Prioritize communication

Ongoing, open communication is key; it’s very easy for remote employees to start feeling isolated. Left to their own devices, some employees may, at times (and with good intentions), take actions out of sync with company values. To help solve this problem, we’ve set up several collaboration tools that help build community and keep employees engaged such as internal instant messaging, an online training library and even tests to verify that everyone has a clear understanding of job duties. We’ve also implemented weekly company video calls, weekly one-on-one video meetings between supervisors and employees, an employee reward system, and a weekly company survey that allows employees to give anonymous feedback.

Of all the systems we’ve established, my favorite is our quarterly company outing, where we get together with our family members and friends for some in-person fun. We can joke and have fun online, but this time spent face-to-face doing something out of the ordinary is critical. It builds a sense of camaraderie that really fuels how we work together as a team. It also brings our family and friends into the fold, giving them a chance to see, firsthand, the people we work with.

We are constantly evolving to make a family-friendly work environment for our DemandZEN team. While we can’t say we have all of the answers, we can say we’re moving in the right direction. Daniel H. Pink (one of my favorite authors), once said, “If you understand the independent worker, the self-employed professional, the freelancer, the e-lancer, the temp, you understand how work and business in the U.S. operate today.” Well, we’re working to do just that.

If you’re interested in joining our team and learning more about who we are, check out our Careers page.

 

 

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Amanda has found and driven leads in e-commerce, networking, big data, storage, virtualization, cloud technologies, healthcare and more, all while growing her company and team. Her focus is knocking down doors for great new technologies and connecting them with the right audience. As Chief Product Officer, she and her team seek, find and deliver audiences made up of top decision makers across any industry. She has found and driven leads in e-commerce, networking, big data, storage, virtualization, cloud technologies, healthcare and more, all while growing her company and team. Her focus is knocking down doors for great new technologies and connecting them with the right audience.

She resides in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. She may look like your average soccer mom, but secretly, she spends her time plotting world domination, while playing mom with one of the coolest kids on earth.