Managing the Virtual Employee
Technology is a powerful tool that will continue to affect the working environment. The ability to stay connected no matter where the employee is located allows companies to be more flexible with their business decisions and with employees.
Most companies still operate from a physical space though they are using technology and incorporating a virtual employee model into their business. Why would virtual employees work for a company? They can have access to talent that doesn’t want to move, national sales presence with minimum overhead costs, or a benefit they can offer to high performing employees. Whatever the business reason, virtual employees are multiplying in work environments.
As a manager, you already been faced with challenges in managing your staff and the workflow of your unit. What happens when you are not able to physically see what an employee is doing….how do you manage them?
Ways to Manage
-Make sure the employee is comfortable being separate from the rest of the team?
-Do they have enough job knowledge to work on their own with limited supervision?
-Have they executed effectively in the past on their projects?
-Insure that they have all the tools they need to operate from their home.
-Set clear job expectations – do you expect them to be working the same time as the rest of the company or are they project driven and manage their own time?
-Communication – create guidelines on how you expect them to communicate back to you on the status of their work. Do you want a report every morning or weekly updates?
-Accountability – be clear on their deliverables and insure they stay accountable to those expectations.
-Bring them in on a regular basis to meet with the other employees.
The most important element in successfully managing a virtual employee is communication. Since virtual employees are not on-site, they are often times left out in the communication flow. For them, communication about any business changes or projects is critical to their productivity. To insure they are happy with their virtual role, find avenues for them to stay connected with the other team members. For example, have a company blog, intranet, or newsletter that can contain business and employee highlights.
As their manager, you will need several forms of communication: email, telephone, conference calls, webcam and face-to-face meetings. Do not rely on email as your only form of communication with a virtual employee. In an email, a virtual employee does not have the ability to read faces or listen to the voice tones so can easily misread your message.
Finally, since the virtual employee is not on site, make an extra effort to communicate your satisfaction with their work.
Hiring Top Performers
Recognition – Ways to Motivate Your Employees
Are You A ‘People Friendly’ Manager?