Managing, Motivating, and Retaining Remote Employees

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Working remotely is becoming not just an occasional perk for workplaces, but the basis of some teams or companies. Allowing employees to work from home allows for more flexibility and less overhead costs. However, hiring remote employees for your team can present some challenges including managing their productivity, keeping them motivated, and overcoming collaboration struggles. Below are a few things to keep in mind to lead (and keep) an effective remote team.

Take the time and build a rapport with each of your team members

Get to know them during their check-ins and one-on-ones, as well as engage with small talk before team meetings or strategy sessions. It is easy to just address the work issues and get off the call, but if you take the time to learn about their family or what they did that weekend, you’ll start to understand their motivations. You’ll build a relationship with them, even when you can’t grab lunch or swing by their office. Know that even though remote employees chose to work from home, most still want that social interaction.

Keep regular check-ins or one-on-ones

These shouldn’t be just a five-minute phone call, but a video chat where you can see each other’s facial expressions and non-verbal cues. Employees should feel comfortable discussing any issues they are having and should feel they can approach you at any time via phone, video, IM, or email. As most people typically read emails two degrees harsher than intended, phone calls, video chats, and emoji’s and GIFs are crucial to communicating with people out of the office. Avoid canceling someone’s one-on-ones as it will make them feel unimportant and forgotten. During the check-in, be sure to discuss not only negative feedback, but mention several things they are doing well. Again, without them being down the hall from you and receiving the quick “thanks” while you pass by, you must be more deliberate in your praise to remote employees.

Create measurable performance indicators for each team member

These can help teams focus on productivity and see if they are on the right track for success. This can really help with productivity if each team member knows some measurable that indicates whether they are being successful in their role. Setting daily, weekly, and quarterly goals are helpful as well.

With collaboration tools like cloud servers and remote access to files and software more readily available, remote employees don’t have as hard of a struggle as they used to. In 2016, 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to a survey of more than 15,000 adults. With that number set to only increase, employers must learn to adapt their traditional managing skills to this “new normal.”


The Culture Counts blog is a discussion of law firm culture and legal innovation, including topics such as effective leadership, employee engagement, workplace culture, ideal work environment, company core values, and workplace productivity.  

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