How to Engage Remote Workers With Your Business

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Running a recruitment business, I get to speak to a lot of founders of startups who more and more are looking to employ remote-based workers, people not based in the office. Opening your business up to remote workers means that you suddenly gain access to a whole host of skillsets and expertise that perhaps is missing or in low supply within the commutable catchment area of your office. However, I often hear concerns that “it doesn’t work,” that unless you have your people around you, they won’t be engaged, won’t foster the company’s culture and values, or perhaps won’t even do a full day’s work.

The answer to these fears and objections lies with you, the employer, and how you approach the employment and engagement of talent that is not based on site, and often not even based in the same country. Consider these key components to ensuring a healthy and successful relationship with your team, wherever they’re based.

Culture

Culture is always a big topic for businesses, whether that’s establishing it from the outset or ensuring it’s maintained as you scale. The important thing is that your staff are bought into it, contribute to it, and espouse it in their daily work life. Therefore, when employing remote workers, you cannot afford to skip this part of the interview and onboarding process. With each interview, you should already be discussing your values and culture and assessing your candidates for how good a fit they are and also, what they can add to the culture. After all, a company’s culture is arguably created and maintained by the people who work there.

When you’re interviewing remote workers, be sure to talk about the work culture and let them know what’s expected from them in terms of how they perform their roles and communicate with colleagues (which we’ll come to next). I’m not going to go into what components make up a great company culture here, but things like open and honest communication, respect for each other, and commitment and passion for the work itself will most likely all feature. Provided you can see these attributes in each candidate you employ, you’ll soon realize that it doesn’t matter whether they’re sitting next to you or in a different time zone, they’re still going to have what it takes to be a valued employee and member of the team.

Communication

When you’re interviewing remote workers, be sure to talk about the work culture and let them know what’s expected from them in terms of how they perform their roles and communicate with colleagues (which we’ll come to next). I’m not going to go into what components make up a great company culture here, but things like open and honest communication, respect for each other, and commitment and passion for the work itself will most likely all feature. Provided you can see these attributes in each candidate you employ, you’ll soon realize that  it doesn’t matter whether they’re sitting next to you or in a different time zone, they’re still going to have what it takes to be a valued employee and member of the team.

First, video calls are essential, and the selection of platforms available, whether for one-to-one or team meetings, has never been greater. I’d recommend having team video conferences each and every week; one on a Monday is a great way to kick off and set out the week’s objectives, and then a wrap up on a Friday to celebrate successes and head into the weekend on a positive note. Encourage everyone to participate and talk through their aims and challenges, so that remote workers feel included and can get the support of their teammates, even though they aren’t sitting in the same building as them. Also, be mindful of time zones and make sure you arrange these for a time that everyone can attend, without inconveniencing people.

This doesn’t mean that you get to forget about all the days in the middle though, especially if you have deadlines or are working under pressure, everyone should have someone to check-in with who understands what they’re up against. This can either be you as the employer allocating availability slots in your calendar for catch-up calls throughout the week, or else promoting the use of video calls in the business if someone remote has an issue they want to discuss (it’s always nice to see a friendly face).

A lot of my clients make use of apps such as Slack in the workplace, which is an awesome way for everyone in the team to be connected throughout the day, whether discussing projects, sharing information, or just having a chat. In a former life, I was a Document Editor with Deloitte and spent most of the day with headphones in so I could cut out any distractions in the office and focus on the work. Even then, we used to use Messenger in the office, and being able to quickly ask a colleague a question or arrange a beer after work without needing to leave the desk saved so much time and felt like you were all sitting round the same desk.

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