Full and partial remote employment have become increasingly common in recent years. This is in part because remote work is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both employees and employers. Employees are able to work from home or a leased office site, have more control over their schedule and enjoy increased freedom during their work day. They often report having lower levels of stress and higher satisfaction from work. Employers benefit from remote work because they require less office space, and can expand their talent pool by searching around the world instead of just in their local area.
However, many companies that are just starting out with remote hiring quickly find that there are some unique considerations that must be taken into account. The relationship between employee and employee is decidedly different with remote work. This, combined with the fact that work processes must be altered to ensure that remote workers are able to produce quality work product, can make it a challenge for new remote managers to navigate.
One of the biggest hurdles for companies that are new is implementing work review processes that give employees useful feedback while improving the quality of the work product while gaining experience. Often, these interactions happen naturally for traditionally employed workers. That is often not the case for remote teams. There are a few steps that any company can take to improve in this area and set themselves up for long-term success with their remote teams.
The Importance of Organized Project Management
First and foremost, any team with remote employees needs to have an effective project management app to track all tasks and projects. Even today, far too many companies are stilling getting by with email correspondence. Project management is essential for remote work review processes and ensuring that your remote teams better understand what their managers are looking for. Ideally, the project management system used for remote workers should be a separate ecosystem from your main project management systems, so that it can be better monitored and evaluated with the unique considerations that remote work requires in mind.
Organization is extremely critical with remote teams. Remember, your remote workers don’t have the same level of communication with their team members as in-office workers do. There isn’t that constant chatter reminding them what tasks need to be completed and which projects are the most important. With so many project management solutions available today, you may have to try several before you find the perfect solution for your remote teams.
Install Feedback Processes for Each Project
One of the biggest issues that many remote workers complain about is not receiving adequate feedback for the work that they complete. Too often, remote workers turn in their work and then never hear back from their managers, which can really hurt the company as a whole.
In your project management system, you should have separate tasks for feedback at various points throughout each project. Not only will this help with the quality of the work, but it will improve communications between your remote teams and the remote team managers. It gives remote team managers a simple, non-confrontational way to provide their feedback at various points throughout a project. Remote workers appreciate it too, as it gives them an idea of what they are doing wrong and helps them to find areas to improve.
It’s important that remote workers receive the same level of feedback as in-office workers so that they can use that feedback to improve their skills. Additionally, the company has certain standards to maintain. Without the right feedback processes in place, it can give managers and executives a misinformed view of remote work and cause them to shy away from strategies that could be beneficial for the company in the long-term.
Peer Edits and Critiques to Review Remote Employees
One of the best ways to review remote employees and give them feedback for improvement is to encourage peer edits and critiques. You can even build peer edits into your tasks and processes to ensure that it is a part of every project your remote teams complete.
You can have your remote team’s work peer edited by another member of the remote team, or use it as a chance to get them to interact with an in-office employee. Another set of eyes on a project can be a great way to spot issues that would typically slip through the cracks. Additionally, it provides you with a great opportunity for team-building. Your remote teams won’t get a lot of opportunities to interact with in-office employees and working with another person can be a great way to build camaraderie and help them get to know their peers.
Quarterly Goals and Feedback
Another mistake that many companies make with remote teams is thinking that they don’t need to have formal sit-downs with their teams to choose quarterly goals and provide feedback on their work. Goals are every bit as important for remote teams as they are for your traditionally employed teams. In fact, you could argue that they are even more important since your remote teams don’t have the same motivational atmosphere that being in the office provides.
Make sure that your remote teams are setting goals for their own work on at least a quarterly basis. You can use these sit-down meetings as a way to go over their previous goals, set new goals, and provide high-level feedback on the work that they have done as of late.
Annual Performance Reviews
In the same way that quarterly goals and feedback sessions are an essential part of any successful working relationship with remote teams, they should also receive annual performance reviews like a traditionally employed person within your company. Having the ability to sit down with their boss and learn about where they can improve, what they have been doing right, and set plans for the future can help them to stay engaged and understand where they stand in the eyes of management. An annual review gives you the ability to review remote employees while building a better relationship.
Annual performance reviews are critical for assessing work on an ongoing basis, both for remote workers and the people that manage them. Remote workers often find that their work is just “added to the pile” without proper reviews, making it hard for them to identify areas where improvement is needed. Ensuring that you provide them with the same in-depth review that you would for employees not only lets them know that you value their work in the same way, it will improve the collaborative relationships between managers and remote workers.
Review Remote Employees to Convey Value, Improve Work
By going the extra mile to ensure that you review remote employees and the work that they do, you demonstrate to them that you value them as an employee and want to work with them in the long-term to improve and get on the same page. Remote workers often feel like an afterthought in the companies that they work at. Not only are they not getting the same in-office interaction that other employees receive, but their work product is often treated differently as well. By installing feedback processes and tasks directly into each project, and sitting down with them for quarterly and annual reviews, you demonstrate that they are a valued member of the team.