How can managers effectively manage expectations to their remote employees? Employees working in various industries welcomed the possibility of working remotely – it allows them to save time previously spent commuting (and often standing in traffic jams or dealing with public transport delays), focus on work without distractions in the form of office colleagues, or perform duties anywhere according to individual needs and plans. Managers also see its upsides – most studies indicate that the productivity of remote workers is the same or sometimes even higher than that of office workers. However, supervising a remote team undoubtedly poses a challenge and requires different rules of cooperation.

How can managers effectively manage expectations – table of contents:

  1. Take the first step – set the rules of cooperation
  2. Start from day one – the onboarding process
  3. Bet on effective communication
  4. Communicating expectations of remote workers – summary

Proper remote collaboration comes from a commitment from both parties and it’s the result of well-established and clear communication. It facilitates maintaining good relations with remote workers. Today, you’ll see our tips on how to converse with remote workers to devise your communication strategy that gets your message across and creates the right working conditions.

Take the first step – set the rules of cooperation

What hours should remote workers stay on duty? How should they report on their performance? How often will the feedback meetings summarizing the progress take place?

These are just the tip of the iceberg of questions addressed to all managers committed to implementing effective remote collaboration. Taking this step requires understanding what the challenges of performing duties remotely are (including the problem of proper time management, breakdown of work-life balance principles, easy distractions, communication difficulties, equipment not working properly, or lack of interpersonal contact), as well as finding ways to mitigate them by providing employees with the best environment to perform their duties from home.

In addition to the principles of remote cooperation, it is also worthwhile to opt for jointly setting the goals that a person is expected to achieve in a certain period (KPIs). This is the easiest way to communicate your expectations while ensuring the productivity of the employee, who will strive to achieve them and keep an independent eye on where his work is at the moment. Such goals should be set for every employee, as they help keep them motivated to work.

Start from day one – the onboarding process

Correctly carrying out the onboarding process, i.e. introducing the new employees to the company and their duties is crucial both in making them feel comfortable in the organization as well as familiar with the rules to follow and expectations to meet. That’s why you should have these issues thought out and put down before the first meeting (in line with the previous point) to make everything clear to them and ensure they realize their scope of requirements. It is worthwhile for the employee to see that the described cooperation guidelines apply to all team members if kept to – ease the process of accepting them and getting used to the way things work.

If your existing and not newly hired employees are switching to remote work, you can still decide to conduct a kind of onboarding process – arranging a meeting and clearly explaining how the existing cooperation will change and what’s expected of each is highly advisable. People working remotely have to realize such issues because still many employers treat remote work as a benefit (and not as an effective way of performing their daily duties), which means that certain additional responsibilities or restrictions are imposed on their employees.

manage expectations

Bet on effective communication

One of the greatest challenges of working remotely is undoubtedly the implementation of effective communication between individuals – many employees indicate that it is this area that they find most troublesome, as it hinders the performance of their duties. After all, remote dialogues will never replace face-to-face ones and will not allow you to receive feedback as quickly as when you’re in the same room or building (because, for example, a person is just in a meeting, misses a notification, displays and forgets to write back, etc.).

However, you can facilitate the process by providing employees with information about the communicators the company uses and the rules of communication, dividing matters into, for example, urgent and non-urgent. Detailed guidelines for sending reminders in the area of questions already asked or things forwarded for review can also come in handy.

Managing expectations of remote workers – summary

Proper communication of the manager’s expectations of how to work and the performance of each employee is the basis for effective remote collaboration. For this reason, it is so crucial that you prepare a description of clear guidelines that every team member will have access to and know how to comply with.

However, you must remember that your job as a manager does not end there. For you to respond to your expectations in practice, you have to take care of scheduled regular team meetings (that also focus on integration, as part of catching up with personal contacts), provide technical support in case of problems as well as assist in organizing work and look after the right work-life balance. When you combine all these elements, you will certainly manage a remote team professionally.

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Author: Anna Serafin