We have managed remote teams for many years and have learned best practices and tips for how to engage, onboard, inspire, and get the most out of remote talent.

It took a lot of experimentation to develop our views but believe we have a strong understanding of things you can do best manage your remote workforce, team, or organization.

We are experts in the field of remote work and want to share these core lessons with you.

Get close to your people. 

Scheduled 1:1s so that you can listen and learn. How often do you meet with your remote peers or subordinates today? If less than once every two weeks, you should consider changing your behavior. You can’t inspire people if you are not close with them and your teams need to know that you value their insights and hear what they are saying.

Here is one immediate action you can take. Add a reoccurring calendar invite right now that goes to your team. Get the time scheduled in so you and your team can prioritize it.

Demonstrate empathy.

When you start a 1:1 meeting take time to ask how your peer or subordinate is doing. Don’t do this simply for the sake of checking a check box. Take time to understand how your remote worker is actually doing. Here are questions you can ask to spark that conversation:

  1. It’s been a while since we last spoke. I want to know how you are?
  2. How have you been? I love hearing your thoughts and want to know what is going on on your end.
  3. Before talking about business, I want to talk about you. How are you?

These three prompts can help you communicate better starting right now. It is incredible how often people don’t take time to connect with their peers or teams. When you are remote you need to over index on demonstrating empathy. Why? Because people have hard stuff going on in their lives not tied to work. And these things matter to your business because they impact your people. And they should matter to you because your people are important to your customers.

Do not start meetings – and in particular 1:1s – by just going into business talk. This will harm your credibility with your teams. Show empathy by asking questions and listening.  Lean forward if you are in an office chair. Or stand erect if at a standing desk and pace your shoulders back. Don’t hunch. Be a leader by showing that you care about your people. 

Be organized.

Do you show up to meetings without agendas? Do you know why you are in each meeting that you attend? If you answered no to these questions you are not optimizing your time. A huge part of successful management of remote talk is knowing how to be organized. 

Before going into a meeting or 1:1 with remote staff, you should know why you are in the meeting, your objectives, and things you can do to drive the conversation or workflows forward.

It is incredible how often managers mess this up. Here is what you can do today to improve:

  1. Circulate an agenda for each meeting you will attend.
  2. Demand an agenda for meetings that others schedule.

Ask your peers or remote workers to clearly articulate what they want to achieve in a meeting. Using this guidance to best prepare for the meetings you will attend.

Don’t be a jerk.

Are you a jerk? Most likely you think the answer is no. But if your team filled out an anonymous survey, what would they say? 50% of the battle of managing remote workers well is being kind. 

Yes, it’s that simple. 

Treat people with respect, show up on time, be organized, and get to know your workers. They will appreciate it and you more. This, in turn, will build loyalty and empower your remote workers to stick around and provide even better experiences for your business.

Summary: Show up, be present, act like your behavior will be on the front page of the local news

Being a good manager of remote talent starts with being good at connecting with people. Be present and don’t multi-task when in 1:1s – this time is precious for your remote worker and you need to treat it as such. If your home internet is not fast enough, get a wifi card or gigabit router

to manage meetings. Nobody likes choppy video sessions and latency in communication.

If you remember only one thing from this article on how to manage a remote team well, ask yourself this question. If my behavior was written about on the local news, would I be proud?

If the answer is no, change your behavior. Your team and the remote work culture you cultivate will be better for it.