Essential Characteristics of Remote Employees

Fri, May 25, 2012


In today’s increasingly technology-focused workplace, chances are there are employees at your company that work remotely. You may even be one of them. The ability to use computers and the internet to work from anywhere in the world is an invaluable resource for small businesses and start-ups, where keeping overhead costs low is such an integral part of early success. So chances are you or someone you work with will do their job remotely, at least part of the time. But success within this new paradigm is not guaranteed. New skills must be developed in order to make sure that working on separate schedules from separate locations can still be effective. Here are some of the essential characteristics you should look for or foster with your remote employees.

First of all, you must be proactive about setting goals. Since employees working from a remote location don’t enjoy regular interaction with the rest of the company, adjustments in tactics are more difficult to achieve. People work within their own bubbles, without the team around them to offer up new strategies or develop solutions to existing problems. Employees working remotely will get used to becoming self-reliant, therefore it’s incredibly important to create both long and short-term goals. Make measures of success easy to identify, and everyone will be better off.

You’ll also need to do everything necessary to make sure the remote employee stays connected with the rest of the company. That means touching base frequently with regularly scheduled meetings. Even if those conversations happen over web chats, they must happen, or those goals will not be met. Responsibility for keeping information open and flowing will fall on both parties, so avoid the blame game and stay connected. And if there’s a period where availability will be limited, make plans that account for the down time.

Remote employees should not measure success by time spent, but by results created. Many traditional employees become complacent punching a clock, and don’t use their time effectively even if they’re in the office for a full week. Remote employees often get more done in a shorter amount of time, because any time saved goes into whatever else they want to be doing. Of course, the truly excellent remote employees will seek out extra work to fill their working hours instead of heading off to the beach. But either way, you can expect more return on less time invested. Do your best to reward that.

After proving improved results in a shorter timeframe, the outstanding remote employee will do all they can to make themselves irreplaceable. They already cost the company less in overhead, so striving to deliver beyond expectations will mean they contribute much more than it costs to keep them around. Look for remote employees that don’t fret about ‘fairness’, but spend their time in action.

Not only do strong remote employees stay in action, they are also constantly learning. They tend to have a very focused set of tasks, and growing and improving their skill set within that specialization will lead to better pay and more responsibility. Offer up additional education or training for remote employees whenever it is requested, whether it’s a technology certification or a conflict resolution degree, and even pay for it if you can. It will come back many times over down the road.

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