After a week of “trash talk” (the mild type), the blog duel between @ritacjackson, @bdsperspectives, and myself, @jenniferbrogee, came to its culmination today.
The overall theme between the three blogs on how to engage remote workers is COMMUNICATION! It seems that since the Tower of Babel communication has been a struggle. It becomes even more of a sticking point when workers are scattered across a geographical area.
Rita Jackson, in her blog, How do you engage remote workers? Let me count the ways, devoted two of her four bullet points to communication:
1/ Continuous clear and concise communication. OKAY this is so very important with any employee BUT how much more difficult is it if the worker is not physically in the office all the time. How many conversations happen in the lunch-room, or at the water-cooler, or “Hey could you just step in my office for a minute, I need to discuss something with you”. Remote workers miss this, unless there is a consistent effort to do it virtually. How brilliant does Skype look right now – easy, cheap and very good way to just touch base. Of course you can email, text, IM but I have to admit, voice is best.
2/ Feeling like they are part of the BIGGER picture and that their contribution is essential to the common goal – I guess that is communication again, because all of these things have to be articulated, discussed, understood, laid out and always need feedback, Feedback, FEEDBACK. Easy to see if you are in the environment of the office, seeing the energy change when something wonderful happens to move the company to the goals – or even if a roadblock comes up and the team needs to overcome it.
- When you have your technology at a working level, you need to COMMUNICATE, consistently and often. This is no different than in the “pre-internet” days. Transparency is critical. Once people know that this is an important way to communicate, leadership needs to use it to let people know what is going on in the organization.
- Most importantly though is the COMMITTMENT to interactive communications. This is not your grandparents’ communication strategy where the founder would give a speech or drop a newsletter to employees informing them of what is going on. The organization must have a strategy of interacting with employees so when they see something and respond, they get a response back. Treat it as if it were a virtual office where they can virtually knock on your door and have a conversation
And half of my recommendations in Blog Duel: How to Engage Remote Employees included communication:
Ask immediate supervisors to communicate often
Ideally, the workers’ immediate supervisors will communicate with their remote employees at least every work day. Just an email to say “Hi, how’s x project going?” helps keep workers feeling plugged in.
Meet once a week
If at all possible, ask remote employees to come into the office for a face to face meeting with colleagues at least once a week. There isn’t really any way to replace the multi-dimensional communications that are made in person.
Brag on their accomplishments
Because remote workers aren’t chatting at the water cooler, co-workers may not know what they are up to. Send out an email, newsletter, or make announcements often about accomplishments made by remote employees.
Just one word – communication – and yet it encompasses so much. A big thank you to Rita & Bernie for their insights!
How are you engaging your remote workers?