Remote workers feel excluded

By Jackie on March 12th, 2018

52% of remote workers feel colleagues don’t treat them equally.

(Survey published in Harvard Business Review Nov 2017)

Out of sight is often out of mind when you work remotely. The good thing is you have the freedom to work the hours you want in the way you want. But the downside is, you may not be be included in the decision-making process. Because you are not there physically in the same place as them, your team may sometimes forget to ask your point of view, update you on changes in a project, or prioritise your requests for urgent action. And you will certainly not be top of the Christmas card list!!

A recent poll by Vital Smart also found that remote workers are more likely to worry about colleagues gossiping about them behind their backs, making changes to projects without consulting them and not being supportive. In addition, 84% of those polled said that common workplace issues took much longer to resolve than expected and this had an adverse effect on productivity, deadlines, morale and retention rates.

So how can managers ensure their remote workers don’t feel ganged up on? How can they build trust amongst team members who may never have met face-to-face and therefore, don’t feel the same connection or bond? Short of holding regular face-to-face meetings, which may be expensive and logistically impossible, or team-building sessions which can be hugely unpopular, there is not much they can do physically to change the situation.

A good remote team manager will facilitate productive working relationships by:

  • using a range of technologies to communicate with his or her team and not relying on phone and email. Tools such as Instant Messenger, Slack, Skype allow managers to form more personal relationships with their remote workers in real time.
  • making sure they check in frequently with workers who are new to the virtual environment or who they know are struggling with a project. This will allow them to pick up on issues earlier and resolve them more quickly.
  • factoring in some team-building time on a regular basis. Videoconferencing can be used as a way of getting to know each other. Time should be set aside for individuals to talk about themselves, their families, their challenges etc. Remote workers miss out on the Water Cooler experience so it’s vital that they have an opportunity to form strong bonds, understand how the other likes to work and learn to trust each other. Chat rooms like Slack offer this type of experience, but there must be a common agreement on use and abuse – what is appropriate behaviour.
  • being always available. It’s essential that members of the team can reach their manager at all times, no matter where they are, by whatever means and be confident that they can rely on them for support.
  • being effective communicators who are able to listen, give direction and keep the team focused on its goals.Transparency is key to trust and respect amongst the team.

If you manage a remote team; how do you make sure your workers don’t feel excluded? Feel free to share your tips with other readers.

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