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How to Set Expectations with Remote Employees

In the words of James Humes, "The art of communication is the language of leadership." You have likely noticed that communication seems to be more effective in person. This is likely because humans have a natural tendency to read into body language, tone, and other similar cues to gather the whole story, which we often do subconsciously. When interacting with remote workers, these cues diminish if not dissipate. This doesn't create a roadblock, but more of a speed bump as you may have to put some extra effort into communicating with and managing remote employees. Here's how to be an even better leader to your remote workers!

1. Be Straightforward 

Be as honest and straightforward as possible with your employees. They can't meet your expectations if they don't know what they are in the first place. You want to clearly outline what they need to know in order to be successful. Setting clear guidelines allows space for you to correct behavior if need be.

2. Define Your Communication Timeline

Do you expect your employees to respond to your inquiries in 5 minutes? 30 minutes? An hour? Do you have the same expectations for how long it should take them to respond to clients or other coworkers? They need to know this! Let them know what your ideal communication timeline is.

3. Communicate "Office Hours"

This depends on the industry and is up to the discretion of the supervisor. Make sure your employees know if you expect them to be working and/or available during certain business hours, or if you're flexible with their hours.

4. Define or Redefine Responsibilities

Especially if your employees are making a quick and unexpected shift to working remotely, you need to be clear as to what their responsibilities are. Have any of their responsibilities shifted? Are their responsibilities the same as before? These are all things they should know, and this can help them stay on task.

5. Set Clear Goals

Everyone has different personalities and skillsets. Some of your employees may have the ability to motivate themselves, while others may need a little push. However, it's beneficial to set clearly defined goals for both types of personalities. The less self-disciplined will hopefully be motivated to meet the goals you set for them. This also helps provide clear guidelines for evaluation as you check-in on productivity.

6. Trust

After you have laid out your expectations for them, trust that they will respond, adhere, and do their best to achieve the goals you set for them. Showing you trust them to do the right thing can go a long way. However, don't be afraid to check-in and evaluate their progress/productivity! 

Managing remote workers can be tricky, but the bottom line is to put emphasis on clear communication between managers and employees. If you're managing remote employees, you may need some direction when it comes to equipment check-out policies, time tracking, or other issues that vary depending on the industry. If this blog doesn't cover an industry-specific topic, we can help!

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